BEDFORD, Va. –
Brig. Gen. Lapthe Flora, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Strategic Initiatives, presented a lecture on the topic “Diversity as a Force Multiplier in the Military” March 29, 2017, at the Bedford Welcome Center in Bedford, Virginia. The event was the first of the World War I speakers series sponsored by the Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission in partnership with the Virginia National Guard.
Flora’s theme for the lecture was “Diversity is the Mother of Innovation” and looked at the important role of diversity in the military from World War I into the present day.
“It is truly a force multiplier when we have Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines who bring different perspectives and personal life experiences to the fight,” Flora said. “This kind of diversity of thought drives innovation, efficiency and effectiveness in any organization, especially in the military.”
Flora explained that a good example is when National Guard or Reserve deploys to support combat or stability operations overseas, where they are more than just their military specialties. They also bring with them diverse civilian skill sets which are essential to mission success.
“Our nation is becoming more diverse each day in both gender and ethnicities and therefore our military must reflect that demographic disposition or we risk not having enough talents to fill our formations,” Flora said. “In addition to the necessity to recruit and retain a diverse military, it is also the right thing to do.”
Watch the full video of Brig. Gen. Flora’s lecture on Facebook:
Flora was promoted to brigadier general in June 2016. A native of Saigon, he is the first Vietnamese boat person to be promoted to general officer in the United State Army and the second of Vietnamese descent. Following the Communist capture of Saigon in 1975, Flora and his brothers fled the city to avoid being drafted in to the North Vietnamese military. He spent more than three years in the jungle, then fled by boat to Indonesia where he spent a year living in three separate refugee camps.
When he arrived in the U.S., he quickly learned English and finished his high school education in only three years. After high school Flora attended the Virginia Military Institute where he earned a bachelor’s degree and commission in the U. S. Army Reserve in 1987. He has served in a variety of leadership positions in the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 29th Infantry Division and commanded at the company, battalion and brigade level. He has successfully completed three overseas deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
In his civilian capacity, Flora is the Senior Applications Engineer with Night Vision business of Harris Corporation in Roanoke, and holds six patent awards related to the AN/PVS-14 and AN/AVS-9 night vision goggles.