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Salute Military Community: Michelle Vega

Navigating Life’s Pathways with Resilience and Purpose
Salute Military Community - Michelle Vega

What is the Salute Military Community?

The Salute Military Community is a unique cohort of veterans and the military community who serve as examples of the value their experiences bring to our industry. The Military Community supports Salute’s mission and strives to achieve our shared vision of providing veterans and military spouses career opportunities in the data center industry. We are proud of the military community for giving back to other members seeking to start careers in this industry.

Lee Kirby, Salute Co-Founder, and retired Army colonel, interviewed Military Community member Michelle Vega, Business Development & Intelligence Manager at Salute and U.S. Army Veteran.

Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I was raised in the rural area of Tennessee, where both of my parents were employed in factories. This left my three siblings and me to largely fend for ourselves, fostering a strong sense of self-reliance from an early age. While some might view such a childhood as challenging, it instilled in us the importance of personal responsibility, household management, and self-sufficiency.

Given the local economy, the focus was less on academic achievement and more on day-to-day survival, a reality reflected in the high dropout rates. Envisioning a successful future for myself, I was determined to take a different path, eventually leading me to join the military.

Michelle Vega headshot

And what are you doing today?

I am a full-time mother, recent master’s degree graduate, and employed at Salute, where my responsibilities encompass the domain of Business Intelligence—an area that resonates with both my educational background and personal passion.

Can you tell us a bit about your military background? 

I joined the Army in March 2012 and was originally thinking of Explosive Ordnance Disposal but ended going into Logistics and my first duty station was Anchorage, Alaska. From there I had a combat tour in Afghanistan and eventually transitioned to civilian life in 2016. 

Do you think your experience in the military helped prepare you for business or leadership?

Engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds has afforded me a multitude of insights. At the age of 23, I assumed a leadership role with subordinates as young as 18 within a combat zone, where their well-being became my primary responsibility. In this challenging environment, a collective ethos emerged, fostering a cohesive team dynamic wherein we cultivated the mental toughness and agility essential for survival. The experience underscored the importance of mutual dependence and caregiving among team members. The enduring principle of prioritizing the well-being of one’s team has persisted in my professional ethos to this day. I strongly believe that this principle is a key factor that leads to impressive results.

Is there someone you are particularly grateful to for helping you reach where you are today? 

My children have been both my anchor and inspiration. The process of readjustment after my deployment presented considerable challenges, yet my children played a pivotal role in facilitating my grounding. Their presence served to realign my sense of priorities and instilled in me a renewed motivation to achieve more. Observing their innate curiosity and thirst for knowledge prompted me to pursue and attain both an undergraduate and a master’s degree.

Michelle Vega family photo

Why is helping the military community and veterans get into this industry so important to you? 

I had the privilege of hearing our co-founder articulate his views on the plight of homeless veterans, and I wholeheartedly agree with his pivotal assertion that any individual who has served this nation and seeks employment should be afforded the opportunity to secure gainful employment, thus averting homelessness.

If you could inspire a movement, what would it be?

I aspire to heighten awareness surrounding mental health issues and mitigate the stigma attached to mental health concerns. As a society, we have made great strides on this topic, but there is still a lot of work to do. The objective is to create an environment where individuals in need feel no shame in seeking assistance. The prevalence of silent suffering is regrettably extensive, and its repercussions can manifest in severe consequences such as job loss, homelessness, and more dire outcomes which is a common issue within the veteran community.

How can our readers follow you online?

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