Honoring Veterans Day and Supporting Our Veteran Community in Tech

Observed in the United States every year on Nov. 11, Veterans Day pays tribute to military veterans for their service. Workmates from our Veterans Employee Belonging Council share their thoughts on Veterans Day, how they’ve transitioned their skills and built community in the tech industry, and how military service shaped their perspective on belonging and diversity.

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Veterans foster innovation in the tech industry with the skills and experiences they gained through military service. Workmates from our Veterans Employee Belonging Council (EBC) share their thoughts on Veterans Day and how military service has shaped their perspective on belonging and diversity.

How Military Service Nurtures a Sense of Belonging Through Diversity and a Shared Purpose

Patrick Himenes is an employee health and safety specialist. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force, and is currently enlisted in the Air National Guard:

In the military, everyone comes from different walks of life, cultures, and backgrounds. But as much as we’re all different, we also realize we share a common purpose. As a result, we gain a high-level capability of being problem solvers because the diversity of perspectives allows for more solutions to solve problems at hand.

Sacha Haghighi is an accounts receivable contract analyst and serves as an ally for veterans at Workday:

From a young age while living in Southern California, I’ve built friendships with military families. My frequent interaction with veterans and the military community expanded my understanding of different cultures and inspired me to emulate how they demonstrate inclusion, empathy, and planning for the future. As a first-generation American who was born in France to a Middle Eastern family, I’ve appreciated the veterans who served in Afghanistan and understood the nuances of the different languages of the Middle East, the different cultures and cuisines, and the global impact and global politics. They helped me feel truly welcomed as a first-generation American.

Aaron Davis is a data conversion consultant and lead of the Veterans EBC. He served in the U.S. Army for four years, and is currently enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves: 

My service in the U.S. Army further validated the importance of belonging and diversity. As service members, we’re required to effectively and efficiently work together to accomplish common goals and missions, regardless of our differences. So trust, commitment, and effort allowed us to ensure the safety of one another as we accomplished objectives. And it's because of these experiences that I believe the U.S. military is one of the most diverse melting pots that exists today.

Why Character Shaped Through Military Service Strengthens Value-Based Cultures 

Mike Hudson is a senior associate program manager. He served as a U.S. Marine for 25 years:

Building an effective team requires having a degree of empathy and curiosity. My experience serving in the military has shaped me to be curious about other people, find out where they're from, and learn what makes them tick. We leverage the very best that each individual has to offer and strive to create an environment where they can be their best self, which is the ability to complete the mission regardless of where you're from or what you look like. It's a way of bringing everyone together to focus on a common theme. 

I see a direct parallel here at Workday because we're a global company and we celebrate that diversity. My experience in the military has definitely helped me transition to another values-based workplace with a different mission, but each place holds in high regard the importance of bringing people together.

How Our Veterans EBC Builds Community and Success in the Workplace  

Davis: Workday’s Veterans EBC allows me to embrace my unique identity while feeling supported, even on the rainiest of days. The opportunity to serve as the Veterans EBC lead has been a privilege because I can serve my unique community and influence company policy in a way that best supports our service members and their family members who deploy. 

“As service members, we’re required to effectively and efficiently work together to accomplish common goals and missions, regardless of our differences.”

Aaron Davis Data Conversion Consultant, Veterans EBC Lead Workday

For example, our Veterans EBC helped develop the military time off product feature in Workday. Workmates who are currently serving in the military no longer have to utilize paid time off when conducting military training or when they’re activated for military service. As an EBC, we also continue to educate our supporters, serve and develop strong connections in our military community at Workday, and provide ongoing support to other Workday EBCs. I don’t believe it’s possible for me to fully express how truly grateful I am to be a member and leader within the Veterans EBC. 

Damon Harvey is a data conversion consultant. He was an active-duty member of the Utah Army National Guard for 25 years: 

As the workforce development lead for the Veterans EBC, I get the opportunity to give back by helping veterans accelerate their career or transition into tech. I've always found that every person has skills that can be applied in a number of different areas. Maybe they aren't immediately apparent, but everyone has something to offer, and you can find out what that is and help them be successful. 

Why Companies Stand to Gain the Most When They’re ‘Veteran Ready’

Chad Browne is an account executive for large enterprises. He served in the U.S. Army for eight years, including deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait: 

There's a huge difference between being veteran friendly and veteran ready. Many companies say they’re veteran friendly because they welcome veterans, but a veteran-ready organization means having recruiting and development programs that bridge veterans’ experiences with roles in the organization. It also means having vocal support from senior leadership and executive sponsorship, not just support from a grassroots effort.

“Support can be shown in so many ways, but the crucial way is to show up and join in on our conversations.” 

Darra Narramore Senior Recruiting Coordinator Workday

I’ve encountered people who have the perception that military experience doesn’t translate into a sales career, believing that serving in the military means you’re always told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Once you’re deployed or after your training, you're only given an end state of the mission that you need to accomplish. I think that's similar for roles in a business setting. You’re given a high-level objective to increase sales, build out a product, or improve the user interface. When you give a military veteran a mission, they're going to figure out how to do it, and they're going to do it well. 

Why Veterans Day Is a Time to Reflect on Universal Values of Sacrifice and Selflessness 

Hudson: This year’s national Veterans Day theme is centered on the centennial commemoration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honors the sacrifice of U.S. service members who died in U.S. conflicts. The act of willingly raising your hand to serve and risk your life, with the possibility of never returning, symbolizes an individual's decision to make a sacrifice to do something beyond themselves. That sacrifice is meaningful not only to the individual service members, but also to their families and loved ones—it’s incredibly impactful and globally unifying.

The Importance of Providing Support Beyond Veterans Day: Flexibility, Inclusion, and Openness 

Katie Davis is a reporting consultant in education and government technical services, and an ally. Her spouse retired from the U.S. Coast Guard after serving on active duty for 20 years:

For military spouses, we benefit from support and understanding of the responsibilities and sacrifices that we take on due to our spouse’s military background. When my spouse was on active duty, he would only be home for short periods of time. So for many military spouses, not having your partner available to help can feel overwhelming. 

Harvey: One of the ways to support the veteran and military community in the workplace is to ask questions, just like how you get to know fellow Workmates—listening to their stories about what makes them unique. I think for a lot of people, their experience with the military probably comes from media or movies. So I love when people ask questions; there’s no such thing as a silly question. When we get a chance to share a story, we like talking about it. 

Darra Narramore is a senior recruiting coordinator on the talent acquisition team. She serves in the Texas Army National Guard: 

Support can be shown in so many ways, but the crucial way is to show up and join in on our conversations. We collaborate with other Workday EBCs to ensure we talk the talk and walk the walk. This is also how we learn about one another across cultures. We stand in solidarity with our fellow EBCs and hope for the same in return. So be present with us, talk with us, and engage with us in matters we care about, too. If you don’t understand something, or you’re unsure, just ask.

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