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Spencer Pride

National Guard & Diversity? (MY VOICE, by Judi Epp)

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Judi (on the far right) poses with several other participants from the 2015 National Guard Diversity Day
Judi (on the far right) poses with several other participants from the 2015 National Guard Diversity Day

You might think that seeing National Guard and Diversity in the same title is a contradiction. I wasn’t sure myself when I was asked to participate in the Indiana National Guard’s annual Diversity Day. It turned out to be a wonderful & enlightening experience.

The annual event was started last year by combining what used to be several separate events. The theme this year was “history,” so the GLBT booth had many displays describing the history of GLBT people in the military. Did you know that the first gay service member to purposely out himself, to challenge the ban on homosexuals in the military was Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich? He was a Vietnam War veteran, voluntarily serving three combat tours, and later as a military race relations instructor. He earned the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

There was a wealth of information available and visitors to the booth could be heard saying, “I didn’t know that.”

I was pleasantly surprised to see booths on the history of women, African-Americans, Hispanics and many others in the military. There was also information on world religions and food from Brazil, Thailand, Japan and many other countries.

There was such a huge turnout that I asked one of the event organizers if attendance had been mandatory. It was not! In fact, the guard members were encouraged to bring their families and they did. That made it even more impressive! The GLBT booth gave away over 100 bracelets!

It’s very encouraging that our Indiana National Guard is working to inform its ranks about the diverse culture we now find ourselves in.   I was proud to be able to represent Spencer Pride at this informative event.

This post comes straight to you from Judi Epp.  Judi has been a member of the Spencer Pride Inc. Board of Directors since its inception in 2007.  She was one of our original founders and anyone who has ever interacted with Spencer Pride probably knows how instrumental Judi has been in the success of our organization.  This post is part of a series entitled “Voices of Spencer Pride” where we share perspectives from our volunteers about topics that they find important.  We hope that you find this post meaningful and if you think someone else would also find value in it, we encourage you to share it with them as well.  THANK YOU!