Dottie Guy and Patrick Finucane on how to acknowledge the contributions veterans have made
November is Veterans Appreciation Month at Dropbox. And for 2019, our employee resource group (ERG) Vets@ chose the theme, “Our Service Adapts.” For veterans, being adaptable to both your surroundings, situations, and experiences can be a valuable skill.
In honor of our vets, we spoke with Vets@ co-leads Dottie Guy and Patrick Finucane about their service, how allies can support the veteran community, and what we can expect from our offices across the globe.
Can you tell us about this year’s theme, and why the word “adapt” is significant to the experience of veterans?
Dottie Guy: I joined the military at a turbulent time. I went from being a civilian to serving nearly two years of active duty with no notice. We are trained to be ready for any situation, and as the saying goes, “the only thing constant is change.”
The move of our Dropbox HQ to Owens inspired the theme — an unfamiliar office, new neighborhood, different snacks. It’s not like going to a war zone and back. Change in any way can be hard. Being prepared and staying chill can make it a lot easier. It is something that has helped in my daily life, especially with everything changing so quickly and having to adjust.
Patrick Finucane: In the military, to adapt is a key skill. It enables you to cope and react to changes in the operational tempo of the mission. It emphasizes resilience and teaches you to accept that, quite often, the plan you spent months on can change in a heartbeat. It’s not always about adapting to big changes in your workspace; it can be little things that impact your work balance. When you exit the military, adaptability is a key enabler in maintaining fluidity. It also ensures that you can focus on the task in hand — whether it’s rolling out our new offices and getting ready for first day of business in Owens or realizing that you simply got in the wrong elevator and are now running a little late for your meeting!
For this year’s Veterans Appreciation Month, we’re taking a more global approach to service. Tell us how we are including other Dropbox offices in honoring our Vets?
DG: While Vets@ was started by folks in the U.S. military, we wanted to make sure to include fellow veterans and service members from around the globe. Many of us served with folks from other countries, and while we have a lot of similar experiences, we also have a lot of different traditions. In the U.S., we have a small percentage of people serving in the military, while Tel Aviv has compulsory service (all eligible people are drafted at age 18). As an ERG, we aim to be as inclusive as possible to share a wide range of military experiences.
PF: The Dropbox veteran community is a truly global group. We have veterans from the UK, France, Israel, Germany, Norway, and Ireland, to name a few. While each veteran has a different experience within their sphere of service, there are so many similarities across the board, such as challenges entering the workspace when leaving service and limited educational and leadership opportunities. Part of our aim is to increase awareness and inclusion in a positive and rewarding manner and help others understand what it means to serve.
Are there any key events happening this year where Dropboxers can support the veteran community?
DG: There are a lot of opportunities to get involved and learn more about our veteran community! Check out this calendar of events at participating Dropbox offices; we’ll also be including events from organizations we trust. I plan on attending the Swords to Plowshares Annual Veterans Day Gala on November 8, 2019, in the Bay Area. Swords is a veteran service non-profit that provides services such as housing, employment assistance, legal help, and other services to veterans. I used their services to help with a disability claim and ended up volunteering with them and getting honored for my contributions.
What do you want allies to remember about honoring those who have served their countries?
DG: Go past asking about their service. Ask about how they are applying their skills today or if there is a way to get involved with the veteran community. A lot of folks in the U.S. don’t understand the value of military service and how it can translate to civilian life. Also, for me, I don’t always want to talk about my service. It can be traumatic or uncomfortable. I don’t like talking about certain parts of going to war. I do like to talk about how veterans aren’t broken, not all have post-traumatic stress, and how some people have had relatively chill experiences. We are not all heroes, and we are not all broken. We are individuals who happened to (embarrassingly) have worn the same outfits all at once.
PF: Service means different things to different veterans. For many, it remains a significant element of who they are. Others feel differently about their experience — accepting and being aware of these differences is important. Within EMEA and APAC, there is a very wide veteran community and a lot of different organizations support and encourage involvement with them. But, exactly as Dottie said, some people have wildly different experiences in service and acknowledging that contribution is a really important first step for many. Just remember we are the technicians, the chefs, the logisticians, the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines — we are the volunteers who served. We are all Dropboxers, but we just took a little different route to get to where we are.
Interested in joining our team? Check out the Dropbox jobs page to learn more.