If you were on an Acela train from Washington DC to New York City on the afternoon of August 24th, 2018, you might have seen a woman wearing earbuds doing a very poor job of not crying in public.
That woman was me, and those were tears of joy.
When I left the military at the end of 2012, I did not think I could ever identify as a “veteran” given that I fit approximately none of the stereotypes that are associated with that word. It took several years, and meeting Lindsay Church, to understand that I should be proud to shatter those misconceptions. Since meeting in 2014 we’ve been on panels, run events, and generally challenging perceptions on our college campus. Lindsay tried to continue her advocacy with the American Legion, but eventually left because of racism, sexism, and the close-minded attitudes that had made me wary of veterans from the start. On Aug 6, 2017, she proposed we start our own nonprofit for minority veterans: people of color, womxn, LGBTQ, and religious/atheist minorities. We have weekly calls, city leaders around the country, and recently our first national leadership retreat.
The reason I cried today is I was listening to the story of our founding being played on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. It’s been barely over a year and we’re over 500 members strong; it’s a bit overwhelming. But there’s little time to stop, because we have so much more work to do. On Sept 20th, Jenny Durkin (mayor of Seattle) will declare “Minority Veterans of America Day” and a city holiday, in honor of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and our work to raise the profile of LGBTQ veterans.
I hope we can look back on these events in the years to come and see them as the start of a shift of understanding and appreciation for the diversity of those who have served in the armed forces. Please join us and help make that possible.
MVA Vice President
Air Force Veteran