Resources for Military Personnel & Veterans
(Resource list at bottom of page.)
VIDEO (Begins at 14:40): Retired Colonel Patsy R. Thompson and her wife Barbara Brass, Keynote Speakers, Sierra College Pride Days, California, 7 November 2013.
Invisible No More!
Colonel Patsy Thompson and Barb Brass tell their shared story of being lesbian in the military under Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Pat, in her official military capacity, was tapped to chair the committee that discharged the highest-ranking officer discharged under the now-defunct Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy, Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer.
Thompson and her spouse Barbara Brass have experienced very different life journeys. Pat, raised in the South, entered the military in 1956 after completing nursing school. Barb was raised in 1960's California by Holocaust refugees. She was not military and rather a pacifist. This event offered a glimpse into the life of an invisible spouse of an LGBT person in the military and some significant parts of their journey before and after 26 June 2013 when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was repealed.
The intimate photographs that capture vows between Air Force airman and his partner in first ever gay 'wedding' at military facility
NOW THAT "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" IS HISTORY, WHAT'S NEXT?
On 20 September 2011, after 18 years, the U.S. military moved our country forward by putting an end to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. DADT's demise comes after over $555 million spent and 14,500 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) men and women discharged. The casualties of the DADT policy ranged from forced silent service, investigation and discharge, or, tragically, death. We cannot forget just how damaging this policy has been to our nation's military by the livelihoods and lives cut short in the name of so-called military readiness.
In the days following DADT's demise, many comments were made on the issues not tackled by DADT repeal. Namely transgender servicemember non-inclusivity and servicemembers' partner benefits.
Supreme Court Decision on DOMA
On 26 June 2013 the Supreme Court of the United States finally struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). One of the very first responses to the Court's action was to question what this would mean for LGBT military personnel and their families in terms of benefits.
Lambda Legal and a coaliton of LGBT organizations immediately provided these fact sheets:
On the afternoon of 26 June 2013 the U.S. Department of Defense released a statement from Secretary Chuck Hagle that "The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses -- regardless of sexual orientation -- as soon as possible."
PLEASE NOTE: In a 27 June 2013 DoD press release Defense Department officials stated the following: "The Department will immediately begin to update the identification card issuance infrastructure and update the applicable implementing guidance. We estimate that this process will take about 6-12 weeks. For civilian employees, the Department will look to OPM for guidance.
Useful information regarding the DOMA repeal and its effects is provided by the American Military Partners Association (AMPA).
While DADT is gone, transgender servicemembers still must serve in silence and transgender individuals seeking to enlist into the military may be barred. Presently, the military medical establishment does not recognize the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders and will not provide transition-related medical care. Additionally, being transgender is considered a medicallly disqualifying condition and identifying as transgender without undergoing transition surgery is considered a disqualifying psychiatric condition.
Quick Facts About Transgender Non-Inclusivity In Lieu of DADT Repeal
- A history of genital surgery may result in a disqualification for "major abnormalities and defects of the genitalia"
- Transgender servicemembers seeking treatment outside the military may be subject to criminal action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
- Transgender persons in the Inactive Reserve Military (IRR) who are in the process of transitioning may need to halt the process if they are recalled
- Disclosure of one's being transgender is grounds for discharge
Clearly there is an urgent need still for work to be done for our transgender servicemembers. For most lesbian and gay servicemembers DADT is "gone" but for these brave transgender men and women, the closet remains the primary option.
Intersex and the Military
We have not yet researched how Intersex servicemenbers are being treated. To our knowledge overt hermaphroditism (a person having both external male and female genitalia) is regarded by the military to be a medical condition that disallows one from joining the military.
Further Resources for LGBTIQ Military Personnel and Vets:
The American Military Partners Association (AMPA): www.militarypartners.org
American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER): www.aver.us
Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA): http://iava.org/
Make The Connection: http://maketheconnection.net/
Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All (SPARTA): http://sparta.nationbuilder.com/
Servicewomen's Action Network (SWAN): http://servicewomen.org/
The Soldiers Project: http://www.thesoldiersproject.org/
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): http://www.va.gov/
Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) - 1-800-273-8255, press 1; http://www.veteranscrisisline.net