Minnesota Guardsman brings Haitian culture to Guard service

February 17, 2020 (STILLWATER, Minnesota) — Staff Sgt. Daphnee Pierre, a culinary management NCO with the Stillwater-based 34th Military Police Company, joined the Minnesota National Guard in 2009 as a financial management technician.

Born and raised in Haiti, Pierre lived in New York with her extended family before coming to Minnesota. She has several extended family members who have served and says she joined the National Guard to save her life at a time when she didn’t know what else to do.

“I was at a point in my life where I didn’t have any direction,” said Pierre. “I had lost my mom two years prior and I just needed to find something.”  

More than ten years and two deployments later, Pierre has found success in the Minnesota National Guard. She was recently selected for her position in the 34th MP Company which offers the potential for promotion and she will soon begin a full-time position in marketing with the Minnesota National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

“It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but I fell in love with it,” said Pierre. “Before my first deployment, I was ready to go. Then I went on my first deployment and you start hearing the Soldiers’ stories. And you start realizing that as a support MOS you do make an impact.”

When Pierre first joined she was one of two black females in her small finance unit. She’s been on the receiving end of insensitive comments about her race and culture, but says she hears them less now. In the last decade she has seen some changes in the way the Minnesota National Guard handles diversity.

“When we started pushing diversity forward, it changed a lot,” said Pierre. “People are asking and they’re curious and they want to know. And if you’re open to sharing that knowledge with them and educating them, there is a change in action and behavior, so I think one of the things that I took upon myself is not to always get upset.”

In her new position as culinary management NCO, Pierre now has the opportunity to share her culture with the members of her unit through the meals she arranges during drill weekend.

“Any chance I get to share a little bit of knowledge about Haiti, I share it,” said Pierre. “One of the things that I do right now, I try to bring a little bit of that flavor into the kitchen. Yesterday, we did lasagna and I spiced it up a little bit – and it was well received.”