Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017 —
Chief of Staff Suzanne White and Command Senior Enlisted Leader MGySgt Scott Stalker hosted the Defense Intelligence Agency's 6th annual Pride Month event June 19 at DIA headquarters.
White kicked off the event with the first-ever focus on challenges unique to deployed transgender officers. Before introducing the event’s keynote speaker, Laila Ireland, White remarked, “We exist to support our warfighters and defense policymakers in everything they do, be it in peace or in conflict. We aim to employ a workforce that is diverse and more than representative of the society we serve, and ensure that workforce feels valued every single day for all they bring to the mission – but here, admittedly, we still have work to do.”
Ireland, a retired Army veteran and transwoman, discussed her remarkable experience as a transwoman in the military and as a transgender woman with a deployed trans spouse. She emphasized the importance of persistently using our collective voice to facilitate meaningful, lasting change. “We’ve come such a long way from exclusion to a time period of inclusivity,” said Ireland. “We want to pave the way so younger generations can live in a world where they are free to be who they are and can serve confidently.”
MGySgt Stalker moderated a paneled discussion for the second half of the event. Four LGBT officers discussed the challenges, benefits, and resources available when LGBT officers choose the rewarding experience of deploying.
The event’s coordinator and panel speaker, DIA Expeditionary Readiness Center Chief Stephen Schreiner, said, “We encourage all employees to take advantage of deploying and to do so with the confidence that you’ll be taken care of like anyone else.” He added, “There are a number of resources for deployed employees, including family support nights that provide support for families of all stripes.”
DIA's mission is to provide intelligence on foreign militaries and operating environments that delivers decision advantage to prevent and decisively win wars. Nearly 50% of DIA's 16,500 employees are stationed outside Washington, DC at national intelligence centers, combatant commands, combat zones, and defense attaché offices worldwide in more than 140 countries.