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Always ready, always there” isn’t just a motto that Daniel Mulkey follows as a member of the Georgia Army National Guard. It’s a code he’s managed to incorporate into all aspects of his life. This profound commitment to helping others solidified four years into Daniel’s active duty with the Georgia Army National Guard.

The chaplain for his unit was down a team member and in need of a Religious Affairs Specialist (formerly called a chaplain assistant). These are non-commissioned officers who coordinate religious support for soldiers and serve as “bodyguards” for the chaplain to ensure he or she can move around a battlefield unharmed. “It’s a very unique role,” said Daniel, who offered to help the fill the empty position for two weeks. During that time, Daniel had an experience that changed the course of his military career.

“It was a bad deal,” Daniel recalled. “We had a soldier who was going through some really tough times and seriously contemplating suicide. It was me and our chaplain — now my best friend — who stopped him from doing it. We were able to get him the professional care and help he needed.”

He continued, “That event sparked something in me. I realized that doing infantry and Army stuff is great, but helping others is where it’s at. I discovered I could contribute in a much bigger way.” Daniel fell in love with the role and decided to take the necessary steps to reclassify his position. Since then, he’s served in the National Guard as a Religious Affairs Specialist for the last 5 years, in addition to maintaining a civilian career.

When he’s off-duty, Daniel works full-time in outside sales for a large company. But more recently, he’s found it harder to balance both careers. Mental health support, spiritual needs, and international conflict don’t take holidays, and considering he’s been hand-selected for an upcoming deployment to Iraq later this year, Daniel decided it was time to look for more flexible ways to provide for his family.

That’s when his chaplain and best friend suggested Salesforce. With the encouragement of his friend, Daniel got started in Trailhead, joined the Trailblazer Community, and later discovered VetForce. He’s in the process of taking his mission to help others in a whole new direction. Here’s his story:  

 

Q: How did Trailhead help you get started with Salesforce?

A: I would get on Trailhead every night and start working through the basics and learning about the platform. And the deeper I dove, the more interested I got. I liked flexing my critical thinking skills to complete Trailhead modules and projects — you don’t get that with other training. I’m also competitive at heart, so I liked the gamification part of it. I found myself always wanting to get to the next rank or badge.

 

Q: But you didn’t find out about Vetforce until much later. How did you get involved?

A: It all started when my friend — the one who introduced me to Trailhead — offered to pay for my first certification. I took him up on his offer, and studied for months...and didn’t pass. I was feeling pretty confident going into it, having completed the Admin Beginner trail, and some of the intermediate trails. I thought I’d blow it out of the water, but that wasn’t the case. It was more difficult than I thought. I got my feelings hurt a little and decided to take a break.

It wasn’t until that same friend went to Dreamforce, came across the Vetforce booth, and told me about all the support they offer that I felt motivated again. Around the same time, my wife went into labor with my daughter. As I waited in the hospital, I started getting back into Trailhead again. I had 25 badges or so then, but I hunkered down after my daughter was born, taking trails in the evening, on the weekend, and during lunch breaks. I eventually bumped it up to my current 170+ badges.

 

Q: What were the requirements to join Vetforce?

A: You have to be an Active, Reserve, National Guard member, Veteran, or spouse, and have completed the required trails on Trailhead. When you complete those, you unlock the ability to attend a class. I got approved to attend an in-person class in Atlanta. They also provided certification vouchers and cool prizes. I just attempted my certification for the second time and passed!

 

Q: What has Vetforce meant to you and other veterans like you?

A: Having Vetforce as a way to transition into technology — whether you’re coming from an infantry background, a military, or police background, or whatever — is amazing. It’s an amazing tool and it still excites me to know that it exists.

I hope to find a way to pay it forward to other people in the military. I’d love to be able to help transitioning veterans coming off of active duty into the National Guard or into the civilian world. The skills you learn in the military are very valuable (leadership, determination, and selfless service) but the tactical skills aren’t as marketable. Learning how to breach doors or assault an objective doesn’t translate as well to civilian life. Salesforce does.

 

Q: What role has the Trailblazer Community played in your journey?

A: There are not enough words to describe the Trailblazer Community. It’s unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen in the civilian sector, and I’ve worked at some great companies. It’s similar to the esprit de corps of the military. For example, when I was very new to Salesforce, a woman named Lauren Touyet from Ireland reached out to me and took time out of her day to talk with me about where to train, where to study, how to prep for my exam, everything — and she’s on the other side of the globe! I honestly attribute passing my certification to the support of the community, and the many others who took the time to give me guidance and mentorship.

 

Q: How would you define a Trailblazer?

A: Trailblazer is someone who leads by example. They have integrity. And they'll always do the right thing, even when no one else is looking.

As Daniel prepares for his upcoming deployment, he continues to look for ways to increase his Salesforce experience. He shared some words of advice and encouragement for military service members, veterans, or spouses who may be interested in exploring new career paths with  Salesforce:

  • Check out Vetforce. If you want to learn more, go to Vetforce’s website and learn about the resources available to you.

  • Take the plunge. If you’re unsure, or just getting ready to dive in, go for it — you won’t regret it.

  • Start knocking out trails. Try Trailhead’s Beginner Administrator trail to learn about the platform.

  • You can learn. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your background is, you really can do it.

  • Rely on the community. The Salesforce Ohana has got your back and will always be there to support your efforts.

Have you participated in Vetforce like Daniel? We’d love to hear your story too. Tweet us your story @salesforce with the #BlazingTrails hashtag.

This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the many voices and stories that make up Salesforce’s diverse community of Trailblazers.