Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is DEAD. For many in this country, the passing of this vile law went largely unremarked. Thankfully, to a surprising majority, civilian and military alike, this meant a paradigm shift, a bellwether, towards ultimate inclusion, in my humble opinion.
As a former military service woman, veteran of two wars in the Middle East, and now an artist, activist, and employee of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, I would appreciate the opportunity to bridge our communities and provide word about opportunities and events as they happen in Illinois.
In an organization like the military, so physically spread out upon this great Earth (and sometimes space) interconnectivity and critical thought has been largely stymied until recent years. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I think I am seeing a revolution within military culture in terms of INDIVIDUALS banding together to help each other, not to mention underrepresented communities worldwide.
In the capacity of my job and artistic endeavors, with respect to LGBT issues as I meet people from these communities, there are recurring themes.
- What kinds of benefits are available to my partner and I? My children?
- What support groups have formed for queer military spouses? OUT-currently serving soldiers? How can we organize as a community to spread word about our needs?
- How can I find work? Mental Healthcare services?
- How can I find healthcare?
- How can I file for disability compensation or overturn my “Other than Honorable” discharge, given to me because I am gay, now that DADT is dead? Is there any retroactive compensation?
I can not claim to be a certified agent to effectively answer all of these questions on the spot (I hold a Masters in Fine Arts). The IDVA partners with John Marshall School of Law, I will be doing significant outreach to faculty and students there, inquiring on a whole host of issues relevant to the LGBT military community and their families.
I can answer any questions related to education benefits. As an employee of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, I can refer anyone who asks, to points of contact related to Disability, healthcare and mental healthcare claims or needs, because we do a significant amount of outreach, we come into contact with not for profit organizations, grants programs etc. I will be “liking” Faceboook pages to these entities on a regular basis and posting information about them on my Facebook page Female Vets Unite.
I can certainly answer questions and recommendations on this forum.
Lastly, in this blog, I would appreciate the opportunity to share with the world, the amazing stories of local service women triumphing in their respective areas of operation, I would love to relay stories of spouses and significant others, standing by their soldier!!!!! I MOST WELCOME YOUR STORIES! Anonymity will surely be preserved, if you so desire. I also believe it is important to remember our LGBT service women who gave their lives in combat and in service. From time to time, I will be writing about these women.