In a Thursday, November 9th, ceremony held at San Diego’s LGBT Community Center member Zander Keig was inducted on the Center’s Benjamin F. Dillingham III and Bridget Wilson LGBT Veteran’s Wall of Honor. The ceremony marked the first time a US Coast Guard veteran was honored. Zander served two years in the Coast Guard as a Fireman and Emergency Medical Technician from 1986-1988. A trained and licensed mental health therapist he has published widely about Transgender subjects especially issues involving Trans men and military service veterans and personnel who identify as Trans.
Zander currently works with Naval Medical Center San Diego serving as a case manager for many active duty military personnel. Zander was nominated by Veronica Zerrer, the President of Neutral Corner, who read the citation of induction. The citation read about Zander’s military background in the Coast Guard and focused on the contributions he has made to countless Trans men and women through his writing and professional monographs. Accepting his induction Zander stressed the continuing journey many trans people find themselves on as well as the strength trans people, especially currently serving military personnel, must have in order to live their authentic lives.
Other Trans community members honored were US Army veteran Nic Herrera, and currently serving Air Force Heath B. The national colors were presented by the San Diego Naval Station Color Guard. The National Anthem and a closing song were sung by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Perry, US Navy.
State Senator Toni Atkins, San Diego Council Members Nicole Murray-Ramirez, and Chris Ward were in the audience. US Representative Susan Davis was represented by members of her staff.
Before reading Zander’s induction citation Veronica asked the trans active duty military members to stand to be recognized for their courage. The audience in attendance responded with sustained applause and roars of vocal support.
The LGBT Veteran’s Wall of Honor was established on November 10th, 2011 following the official end of the policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Conceived by City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez it was created by the support of Benjamin F. Dillingham, III and Bridget Wilson. Mr. Dillingham served in the US Marine Corps in Vietnam, attaining the rank of Captain and earning a Bronze Star for valor in combat. He is a member of the United States Armor Association and Navy League. He is an active community member who has been named LGBT Veteran of the Year in 2007. He is a graduate of Harvard college and the Harvard University School of Business.
Bridget Wilson is a veteran of the US Army Reserve. She served as a judge advocate with the California State Military Reserve from 1999-2009 and has been a counsel for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network since 1994. She is a member of the American Veterans for Equal Rights, the National Guard Association of California and AmVets. She has taught military justice as an adjunct faculty member at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2007.
The event was planned and conducted by the 2017 LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor Advisory Council Chaired by Lori Hensic and Morgan Hurley. Neutral Corner Board President Veronica is a member of the Council. San Diego Community staff member Ben Cartwright provided liaison for the event.