Flora speaks at Metro Richmond Diversity Day

Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Strategic Initiatives, speaks at the Diversity Day conference to community leaders within the metro Richmond area Oct. 21, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. The event featured guest speakers from government, emergency services and professional organizations who spoke about strategies and programs working for their organizations, the challenges they face and how the community can help. The conference was an effort to strengthen race relations and communication in metro Richmond. (Photo by Sgt. Amanda H. Johnson, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Strategic Initiatives, speaks at the Diversity Day conference to community leaders within the metro Richmond area Oct. 21, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sgt. Amanda H. Johnson, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va. — Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, Virginia National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Strategic Initiatives, shared his thoughts on diversity in the Virginia Guard with community leaders in the metro Richmond area at the Diversity Day conference Oct. 21, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. The event featured guest speakers from government, emergency services and professional organizations who spoke about strategies and programs working for their organizations, the challenges they face and how the community can help. The conference was an effort to strengthen race relations and communication in metro Richmond.

“Diversity equals readiness,” Flora said. “We need a diverse military force that is capable of handling the ever-increasing complex, multi-cultural and multi-domains operational environments both at home and abroad. A diverse military formation will enable the unit leadership to leverage all its talents to accomplish a mission. This will also enable the military to build and foster holistic thinkers and leaders, and that equates to a sound and effective decision making process that translate to readiness.”

He explained that diversity is a top priority for the Virignia National Guard and is listed as one of the top four lines of effort along with readiness, operational excellence and resilience in the Adjutant General of Virginia’s Joint Strategic Plan. Flora is a member of the Virginia Guard’s Joint Executive Diversity Council along with the other general officers and senior noncommissioned officers in the state.

Flora said that diversity is much more than just race and gender, but also a diversity of thoughts that included religion, ethnicity, language, individual family background, personal experience and military specialties. Effectively synchronizing all of those elements is essential to the Guard’s ability to be ready at any moment notice to support Virginia’s richly diverse local communities while engaging multi-national partners and allies around the globe.

“The world we live in is very complex,” he said. “We deal with hundreds of countries around the world, and we can’t just have one single way of thought when working with our partners and friends. We need that diversification to give us the best decision.”

He also shared that while the Virginia National Guard is well represented by African Americans, the Guard is working to recruit more Asians and Hispanics in their ranks.

The conference included leaders from several different occupations and businesses from across the community. Flora represented an integral part of that community in representation of the Guard and the Soldiers that make up the foundation of diversity within Virginia and the military.

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.