Brought to you in partnership with the American Military Partner Association: Connecting, supporting, honoring, and serving the partners and spouses of America’s LGBT servicemembers and veterans – our nation’s “silent heroes.”
SSG(P) Brewster and I are a fairly typical military family. We love one another and our three little girls with a fierceness that it unmatched and we love the Country we serve. That’s the easy part, loving each other, that comes naturally at this point. Managing the stress and inequalities of being a same-sex couple in the service is entirely different.
We are loyal, we are dedicated and we are at a disadvantage. See, we made the decision years ago that I would stay home and raise our children. We’ve moved 3 times since then, struggled through deployments, and served 2 years on the trail as a Drill Instructor. We fought long and hard for the repeal of DADT, we wanted to be honest with our children, we wanted to teach them about honor and integrity, values instilled in my partner from the moment she swore in, over 10 years ago. We wanted better for them, for our family, and we believe the Army is capable of offering us better. We’ve given of ourselves, we’ve willingly agreed to sacrifice in every aspect of our person lives simply to fulfill a calling to serve.
Our girls have the resilience of seasoned Army dependents, even before our co-parent adoption was finalized; they knew they had 2 moms. They also knew, pre-repeal, that they couldn’t really talk about the details of our life. When they started school, we let the teachers and administrators reach their own conclusions, my partner took the lead at home in terms of their education, I was the visible figure at school. We avoided questions, we took the kids to play at the park 20 minutes outside of town to reduce the chances of running into anyone. They learned, without us really telling them, to lie….to be discrete. I distinctly remember the first time our girls came home, in Kindergarten, crying because everyone else brought their Soldier to class but they couldn’t. That’s gut wrenching, watching other kids proudly walk down the hallway with their parent, knowing that this wasn’t an option for us. Things are changing, our children are no longer lying to their friends, their teachers, and they can hold their heads up and proudly confirm that their mom is a Soldier.
What hasn’t changed, I still can’t take them on post without worrying that I will be carded. I can’t buy their groceries at the PX and when I take them to the doctor on post, I am only their caregiver. Some nurses make a point of referring me to their caregiver, a few say they can’t discuss things with me or I can’t make decisions because I am “just their caregiver”. I carried them for 8 months and 2 days, they were removed from my body via c-section but to the military, according to them, I am nothing more than a baby-sitter.
What we lack now is the benefits afforded all other military families. Health insurance and access to base serves, the simple honor of receiving her body if, God forbid, she loses her life on an upcoming deployment. We are not asking, nor do we expect, anything more than what our heterosexual counterparts are afforded. We deserve better, our men and women of the Armed Forces deserve better.