THE IMPORTANCE OF THANKING OUR NATION’S VETERANS

Anita Legacy Blue – 2024 President of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance

Our lives can be so fast-paced that we may overlook the sacrifices that Veterans have made to protect our country. I want to encourage you to take some time and salute those who dedicate their time, strength, and energy to being part of a bigger cause  – those who serve our country. 

Saying thank you may seem like a simple, polite gesture, but to Veterans, “thank you” means so much more than that. Saying “thank you” shows us that our hard work and sacrifice were appreciated. While some may be shy in receiving the thanks, trust me, it means something. 

As an LGBTQ+ retired Air Force veteran for 35 years, being thanked for my service means the world to me. I have had people thank me by paying for my meals at restaurants or recognizing me in other ways of appreciation. I will always return a thank you by saying, “thank you for showing support.” And, if you want to ask me questions and have a conversation, I am certainly accessible to answer. It makes me feel welcomed!

Veterans Day is special. It is a day where I get to reflect on my military journey. 

I joined the National Guard in Louisiana In 1986 while attending Southern University of New Orleans largely because I wanted my own car. Growing up in Alexandria, La. with a single mother and the eldest of four children, money was pretty tight for us. I knew the military would be the perfect opportunity to provide for myself and also fund my education. I also appreciated that my service would be for a cause greater than myself. 

Once I completed basic training, I started my first job on base as a Services Journeyman in the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program at the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. There, I learned the fundamentals of helping and serving others. 

Four years later, I transferred to the National Guard in Anchorage, Alaska mainly to follow love. I eventually worked my way up to a supervising position in food services, which nurtured my leadership skills. I also held another job in Alaska, working for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company as an HR and Benefits specialist, all while eventually becoming a first-time mom.

After the relationship with my daughter’s father ended, we returned to Louisiana, and I used a VA loan to purchase my first home as I continued to serve in the National Guard. We eventually moved to Houston where I have had many roles including serving as a Base Military Funeral Honors Manager at the 147th Fighter Wing in Houston. I participated in over 300 funerals throughout my six years of working there. Giving back to families by serving them at such a raw, emotional time constantly reminded me that being in the military means putting others first.

It wasn’t until my final job in the military that I started to see my true calling: diversity, equity, and inclusion. I worked in the Military Equal Opportunity program for the 147th Reconnaissance Wing. The program ensured our base was free from all types of discrimination and sexual harassment by educating others and leading investigations on any instances of these types of infractions. I held this position for 13 years, which strengthened my desire to combat discrimination in any way I can. It was during that time that I met and married my wife and also joined the real estate industry as an agent now with eXp Realty.

These experiences with DEI and serving others has led me to today as I now proudly serve as the 2024 President of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. 

As an LGBTQ+ person in the military I am proud of the changes that have been made in accepting, respecting, and valuing us. I joined the military during a time when that wasn’t so and we’ve seen so much positive change including the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy over a decade ago. I am thankful that the system has changed, but there is still a lot of work on the individual level to move the military forward in ridding itself of discrimination. 

Real estate is in the same boat. The systems have changed and acceptance levels have risen, but there is still discrimination. That’s why the Alliance’s involvement with the Stop Hate in Real Estate initiative is so important. We still have a lot of work to do.

Understanding and welcoming others is part of this work. Please spend some time on Veteran’s Day to reflect and show your appreciation for those owed acknowledgement selflessly serving our nation. You have the power to make veterans feel seen, valued, and appreciated. So, this Veteran’s Day, take a moment to thank your Veterans and show them the respect they rightfully deserve.

 

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