Maj. Matthew Henderson, Assistant Program Manager (APM) for Project Linchpin , shares his perspectives on Pride Month.
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Maj. Matthew Henderson, Assistant Program Manager (APM) for Project Linchpin, with his partner during last year's Pride Month
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Maj. Jurelle Mendoza, Assistant Product Manager supporting the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) Pre-Prototype and the Tactical Space Layer (TSL) for Army Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP), shares her perspective on Pride Month
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Maj. Jurelle Mendoza, Assistant Product Manager supporting the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) Pre-Prototype and the Tactical Space Layer (TSL) for Army Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP), holding the flag of the Phillippines
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Since the repeal of the DoD’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)” policy in 2011, members of the LGBTQIA+ community can serve openly, living their authentic lives with honor and integrity. In June, the Army recognizes LGBTQIA+ service members and civilians for their service to the Army and the nation. Pride Month is a nationally recognized observance celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community, its advocates and allies by promoting community, unity and pride. The selfless and dedicated service of the LGBTQIA+ Army Soldiers and Civilians makes the military stronger and the nation safer.

Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors (PEO IEW&S) will continue to promote an inclusive, equitable environment where individual talents can thrive. People working and living their best and true selves gives the Army an even greater ability to meet current and future challenges successfully.

In recognition of Pride Month, a couple members of the PEO IEW&S workforce volunteered to share their experiences, stories and thoughts with us.

Maj. Matthew Henderson is the Assistant Program Manager (APM) for Project Linchpin within PM Intelligence Systems & Analytics. He has been with PEO IWE&S since August 2021.

Tell us about yourself:

“I was born and raised in Ohio and started living life as my true self at 18 when I went off to college at The Ohio State University and came out of the closet. Shortly after, I went back in the closet to join the Army and attend Officer Candidate School. Midway through my first assignment as a Military Police (MP) Officer, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed and I was able to come out again and embrace the richness of my identity. I served as an MP for 10 years, mostly in Detainee/Corrections units, with tours in Korea and Afghanistan. I transferred into the Acquisition Corps to better myself and develop a skillset that would be valuable in a post-military life. In my free time I enjoy attending live music events, sewing, snowboarding, and spending time with my partner Mason.”

What value does a diverse workforce bring to the Army and to PEO IEW&S?

“Diversity and inclusion are crucial for fostering a society that celebrates and respects the unique identities and experiences of all individuals. Through the lens of the LGBTQIA+ community, Pride Month serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for equal rights and acceptance. Embracing diversity and promoting inclusion not only honors the fundamental human rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals but also enriches our collective experiences, fostering a more vibrant and empathetic community in PEO IEW&S and the Army.”

What significance does Pride Month have to you?

“As someone who joined the Army before the repeal of DADT, the Army’s celebration of Pride Month holds profound significance as it symbolizes the progress made toward equality and inclusivity within the DoD. After the repeal of DADT, I promised myself that I would live my life authentically as a queer military officer so that others would feel safe to be themselves. Overcoming fear and the perceived need to conceal parts of our identity are innate parts of the queer experience. Visibility is important because it challenges that paradigm, breaks down barriers, and fosters understanding and acceptance within ourselves and our communities. The Army’s observance of Pride Month celebrates the richness of human experience in the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility and in doing so helps to counter discrimination and promotes equality.”

Maj. Jurelle Mendoza is the Assistant Product Manager supporting the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) Pre-Prototype and the Tactical Space Layer (TSL) for Army Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) and has been with the PEO IWE&S since July 2021.

Tell us about yourself:

“I was born in New York to parents who emigrated from the Philippines in the 1980s. I earned my B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the United States Military Academy in 2011 and commissioned as a Signal Officer. I had previously served at Fort Cavazos (Hood), Fort Eisenhower (Gordon), and Camp Humphreys. I earned my MBA from Stanford University in 2021 and went on to serve in my first Acquisition Corps assignment as the APM for Space Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance at Army TENCAP. I am currently attending the Intermediate Level Education course ILE at Fort Belvoir and will PCS to Army Futures Command in Austin, Texas this fall.”

What value does a diverse workforce bring to the Army and to PEO IEW&S?

“I believe that a diverse workforce is essential to help the Army and PEO IEW&S continue to arm our Soldiers with the necessary equipment to complete their mission. Creating teams of people from various backgrounds improves the Army's abilities to think outside the box and gain a more holistic perspective on ideas at all levels. Inclusivity is vital to improve and solve the complex problem we face in terms of modernization and innovation. Those who feel included in the team will be more apt to provide input as it becomes a safer space to share ideas.”

But it’s more than just collecting an assortment of opinions. I think that celebrating diversity helps organizations to create a safe environment where everyone feels valued for their opinion and expand their knowledge about other communities on a more personal level.

A diverse workforce is representative of the American population and also demonstrates that we value people for who they are.

What significance does Pride Month have to you?

“Pride month has become a symbol of confidence and inspiration for me. I have known since grade school that I was a lesbian, but never felt safe or confident enough to express who I am to my family or friends until I was 24 years old. It took courage to overcome the fear of disappointment and rejection for not fitting in with social norms. The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was still in effect throughout my time at West Point and I feared expulsion if anyone found out who I really was. The repeal of DADT in 2011 was a major step in my journey to self-acceptance, but it took time to break the shackles that imprisoned me in the perpetual state of dishonesty between my personal and professional life.

One of my most memorable experiences was publicly coming out to my unit at a Battalion Ball in 2015. It was the first time I was truly honest with myself while serving in the military and culminated my struggle between truth and service. Since 2015, I have received immense support from my leaders, peers, and Soldiers to express my true self within a profession dedicated to protecting the rights of all people. I know that my sharing my struggles and successes as a member of the LGTBQIA+ community can serve as a beacon for others within the organization. We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to go for the LGBTQIA+ community. I have transformed from a shy and cautious daughter of Filipino immigrants into an Army officer who is proud of who she is and advocates for those who still need to find their voices.”