Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Diversity Team Participates in Pride Parade
Members of the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center’s Diversity Committee donned their most festive multi-colored attire Aug. 9 and rode on or marched alongside the group’s float in the Charleston Pride parade as it made its way down King Street in downtown Charleston. This was the committee’s second year participating in the parade, which promotes awareness and acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
“Live and let live,” said Desralei Jackson, equal employment manager at the Charleston VAMC and coordinator for the Diversity Committee’s parade float and participants. “We wanted our LGBT co-workers and any potential applicants to know that we value them. They have a right to work in an environment free of harassment and to be treated with dignity and respect.”
The group constructed a float under the theme of “We Serve All Who Served.” According to Jackson, the idea was to “promote Ralph H. Johnson VAMC as a leader in healthcare equality.” She explained that the committee’s participation in the event served to promote the medical center as a place of acceptance, where all Veterans could receive high-quality medical services without the fear of judgment or discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“We want Veterans to know that this is your VA - regardless of your age, race, gender identity or sexual orientation,” Jackson said.
Employee participation in the parade grew from last year and the committee hopes their numbers will increase in the coming years. Executive leadership at Charleston VAMC showed their support of the event with the participation of Assistant Director Felissa Koernig.
“We had a good time participating in the parade,” said Jackson. “But, most of all, we received a lot of ‘thank yous’ from LGBT members, friends and families for our presence in the parade. That made us feel a sense of pride that we work at Ralph H. Johnson VAMC, a medical center striving to be part of the community and embracing diversity and inclusion.”