Let’s all celebrate! Not so fast.
Military Spouse Day has been observed since May 23, 1984, when a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan recognized the profound importance of spouse commitment to the readiness and well-being of military members. The US Secretary of Defense standardized the date by declaring the Friday preceding Mother’s Day as Military Spouse Day.
With the repeal of DADT, after all the celebrations stopped and the business of getting back to work started there was a new cry from the newest group of military spouses. What about us? It has long been proven that behind every successful military member is a family and families come in many forms.
The sacrifices of this new group are no different than their counterparts.
“We get up when the alarm goes off at 5AM; we make breakfast and send our military member off just like they do”. They also endure long deployments, weeks in the field, days out to sea. However the support for the newest group of military dependents is just not there.
Step in The American Military Partner Association, a group of spouses and partners who all are in same-sex relationships. To date the group has been functioning as a support mechanism for each other. From the simplest things as “I just need to talk with one of you” to “When my partner finishes boot camp and goes onto training will she be able to live off base with me?”
Heterosexual military spouses have a variety of benefits afforded them by the military, like family support centers, healthcare, additional dollars in the service member’s pay for having a family, access to the commissary or base exchange, and the list goes on and on. The newest spouses are mostly denied these services and benefits, despite the fact that they sacrifice just as much as their heterosexual counterparts. Should all sacrifices be treated equally?
The American Military Partner Association, is working towards equal rights, benefits, and a seat at the table for its members too. The group is growing daily as more and more people find out about the it and its work. We have long been known as the silent partners, but not any longer.
Let’s all hope that May 10, 2013 will look a little brighter for us too. And we can be part of the celebration and acknowledged for our sacrifice.
Jim Cassidy serves on the national steering committee for the American Military Partner Association, the nation’s resource and support network for the partners and spouses of LGBT servicemembers and veterans. He is the partner of an active duty Sailor and lives in San Diego, CA.