SWD Black History Month Spotlight: Vidal Gray

Vidal Gray is the Equal Employment Opportunity Strategic Advisor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division Office of Diversity and Leadership.

The Office of Diversity and Leadership provides oversight, leadership, and policy guidance for development of a Model EEO Program at four District offices located at Fort Worth and Galveston, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Little Rock, Arkansas. The Office of Diversity and Leadership works proactively to enhance the employment of women, minorities, veterans, and people with disabilities to reflect the rich diversity of the Nation and provides a full and fair opportunity for all employees, applicants and customers regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, or genetic information.

Gray’s previous position was the Chief of EEO for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. He was responsible for overseeing the district’s EEO Program.

Outside of work Gray enjoys spending time with his son, playing Texas Hold ‘em, and traveling. Last year he traveled to New Orleans, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. He hopes to go to Puerto Vallarta in 2018.

Gray, a four year USACE team member shared some of his thoughts on African American/Black History Month, his career, the military and more.

The African American Black History Month theme this year is “African Americans in Times of War.”

Q. What are your thoughts on this year’s Black History Month theme and the immeasurable impact African Americans have had on the history of the United States?

A. I think about how African American Soldiers have a long distinguished history in the United States military. I simply couldn’t be any prouder. This is a great way to honor our long storied involvement in the U.S. Military.

Q. Having served in the Army you’re part of that distinguished history. Can you talk about your service and how it helped shape who and where you are now?

A. The Army helped solidify my values and guide the way that I carry myself in every situation. I instinctively inherited values from my family but I didn’t realize how important they were until I joined the Army. Beginning the first day of basic training, the Army teaches you how live the seven Army Values. Those values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. I’ve been out of the Army for several years now but still apply those values to my daily life as well as work to instill them in my son.

Q. Is there someone who inspired you to join the military or that you would call a mentor?

A. My brother convinced me to join the Army. He said let’s just sign up for two years of Active Duty and see what happens. I ended up serving for 22 years. My brother is still in the Army.

Q. What advice would you share with teenagers considering joining the military or civil service?

A. The military is a great opportunity to develop and explore. Things like pay and medical coverage are the tangible benefits you’ll receive, but I’m here to tell you the friendships and bonds you’ll make in the military will far exceed your expectations.
Keep an open mind, every situation isn’t perfect, but don’t quit.

Q. What has been your most memorable experience in the military or federal government that you’d like to highlight?

A. That’s tough for me to answer. I’ve been an extreme extrovert my whole life. I go full speed into every new situation expecting it to be the best. I feel like I’ve turned every assignment and situation into a memorable learning experience.

If I had to pick one shining moment it would be my selection for Special Operations Aviation Command because of how challenging the qualification assessment was.