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Memorial Day: A Salesforce Veteran’s Personal Story

By Kearson Farishon May 25, 2018

Learn about Memorial Day and how Salesforce helps veterans.
San Francisco National Cemetery, in the Presidio of San Francisco. Photo source: Kearson Farishon

A friend asked me recently, “What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? I just think of barbecues, and thanking the veterans I see.” I understand that it can be a bit confusing.

The answer is: Memorial Day is when we honor and remember all those who died while serving in the military. And Veteran’s Day is when we honor all veterans, not just those who died.

So what do veterans like me do on Memorial Day? In short, it’s not as simple as enjoying a meal with loved ones on a long weekend. I have friends who were killed while serving and I take time to remember them.

It’s a somber moment, and sometimes I go to a national cemetery. I look at row after row of white headstones that starkly stand out against the green grass.

The experience really hits me when I visually see the sacrifice service members have made for this country. I usually get tears in my eyes, but I also smile. I mourn their loss of life and equally remember my favorite memories of those I knew when they were alive. I imagine family members who will no longer be able to hug their mom, share a favorite childhood memory with their brother, or share a romantic dinner with their love. And then I’m grateful that I’m still here and able to do all of those things.

These are powerful moments that motivate and energize me to make the most of my life. I want to give back to the world so their sacrifices aren’t in vain.

What You Can Do to Help on Memorial Day

How can you give back? I recommend you do something to honor the sacrifices these service members made, and do it in a way that is most important to you.

In my own life, I was recently introduced to Merivis, a nonprofit in Austin, Texas that trains, mentors and prepares veterans for a career working with Salesforce. Their story is inspiring to me.

How Merivis Foundation Helps Veterans

About 3 years ago, Hector and his wife Kate were driving through Austin discussing the challenge veterans have when they leave the service.

Veterans have skills companies need like: leadership, teamwork, creative problem solving and complex decision-making. Yet these veterans are working minimum wage jobs because the corporate world can’t see their “experience.” There had to be a way to help solve this problem!

Hector thought about his own transition from combat medic to nurse to IT, and how his career had grown leaps and bounds with Salesforce. Hector looked at Kate and said, “I want to do this. I want to see how we can make this transition opportunity a win-win for everyone. Salesforce gave me a great career, I want to give other veterans the same opportunity.”

They wanted someone else with Salesforce experience to help with the program, so they asked Joe Castro, the Chief Architect at Appirio, to be a part of it. The three of them created their first “cohort” in October of 2015.

These cohorts consist of a 5-week training program that includes Salesforce Admin 201 training, hands-on projects set up by board members, Trailhead trails, and technical mentoring.

Merivis Foundation, a Salesforce customer, leads a training for veterans building career skills
A Merivis classroom training on Salesforce Administration, level 201. Copyright Merivis Foundation. Used with permission.

But Merivis isn’t focused on just training; they also include key job searching skills such as: resumes, mock interviews, professional headshots, tips on establishing a personal brand, and best practices for LinkedIn profiles.

Hector Perez, co-founder of Merivis Foundation
A photo journey: from military life to a rewarding technology career. Hector Perez won the Golden Hoodie at Salesforce World Tour DC for being a Vetforce Trailblazer. Copyright Merivis Foundation. Used with permission.

They want to arm veterans with technical skills and mentor them on the ultimate goal: get on the path to a lucrative career in high-paying Salesforce jobs.

Veterans learning Salesforce skills are moving towards lucrative careers.
Merivis Foundation program graduates. Copyright Merivis Foundation. Used with permission.

Going from Minimum Wage to Six Figure Jobs

One inspirational story is Sheldon Simmons, a Merivis Foundation graduate, who left the military and ended up in a $12 an hour job on an assembly line. His first week on the assembly line coincided with the first classroom week of Merivis. An enthusiastic learner, he worked the night shift on the assembly line, then attended the week-long Merivis class in person. He even slept in his car for a week to do both!

A year after completing his Salesforce Administration course with Merivis, Sheldon is making close to six figures.

Veterans can develop Salesforce skills for great careers.
Merivis Foundation program participants and coaches. Copyright Merivis Foundation. Used with permission.

Salesforce Resources for Veterans

If you want to help veterans, or if you’re a veteran or military spouse seeking a new career, here are some helpful resources:

The Merivis Foundation website

  • Apply for an upcoming training and get skills for high-paying Salesforce Administration jobs
  • Love their mission? Contact Kate at Merivis ([email protected]) about:
    • Sponsoring a class to help Merivis reach and support more veterans in their transition to civilian careers, or
    • Volunteering as a Salesforce coach or for non-Salesforce professionals volunteering to conduct mock interviews and resume review (remote volunteers welcome)

Learn more about VetForce, the Salesforce job training and career accelerator program for military service members, veterans, and spouses.

Read about VetForce: Training Military Service Members, Veterans, and their Spouses for Cloud Careers.

Not a veteran? You can still help! Talk to HR at your company about how to be inclusive in recruiting:

  • Take the 1-hour Trailhead trail on how to Strengthen and Diversify Your Workforce with Military Veterans
  • Consider adding a skills test before an interview rather than just resume review
  • Most veterans have completely different resumes than civilians, and you don’t want to miss top talent because of a non-traditional resume
  • You’ll be in good company: Organizations that have hired Merivis grads include Dell, Google, Amazon, CapGemini, the Texas Veterans Commission, Accenture, PolSource and others

My Plans This Memorial Day

This Memorial Day, I’ll take time to honor the loss all those white headstones represent. Then I’ll go to my barbecue, hug my friends, kiss my husband and raise a toast to those who made days like these possible.

I will also continue to help veterans transition into the civilian workforce. What better way to honor those who died, than by helping those who served?

Share what you’re doing on Memorial Day in the spirit of service with us at @SalesforceOrg and @Vetforce on Twitter!

Vetforce is the Salesforce job training and career accelerator program for military service members, veterans, and spouses
Vetforce participants at Dreamforce. Copyright Merivis Foundation. Used with permission.

About the Author
Kearson FarishonKearson Farishon is a Director of Customer Success at Salesforce. Kearson works closely with customers to understand their business needs, then helps them align technology solutions and best practices to maximize the business value from the Salesforce platform. Outside of work, she volunteers with VetForce in the San Francisco Bay Area and enjoys traveling, cooking, and hiking. Her career includes being an Army Officer, management consultant and technology consultant. She holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point, an M.A. from the University of Oklahoma and an EMBA from the University of Texas at San Antonio.