Today’s Letter to the President, from a mother of a active duty gay service member comes at a very appropriate time.

The timing is propitious for this letter, as is the inclusion of the First Lady in the address. First Lady Michelle Obama announced last Wednesday at a National Military Family Association Summit that President Obama has ordered National Security Staff to conduct a 90-day review “to develop a coordinated Federal government-wide approach to supporting and engaging military families.” As it is almost certain the study will not include gay families, Change.org has posted a challenge to Michelle Obama in this endeavor: First Lady Should Include Gay Military Families in New Studies. Citing some of the many difficulties LGB servicemembers’ families face, including:

Same-sex partners get none of the medical benefits, life insurance, or other financial benefits as opposite-sex ones, as I’ve written before. They cannot take advantage of the support services offered to opposite-sex spouses when a spouse is deployed or transitioning back from combat. They cannot dispose of their loved one’s remains if the worst happens.

The children of these servicemembers cannot easily discuss their families with classmates who also have parents in the military. To do so would risk outing their parent(s) and endangering their family’s livelihood. They therefore have no peer group with whom to share their feelings about having a parent deployed, injured, or killed.

Several letter authors in this series too have mentioned their fears about what should happen should they not return from combat? They know their partners will not receive the news of their death from a solemn, respectful, empathetic officer visit. Many fear they may receive it by reading the local newspaper obituary. This needs to stop. The military has a long history of providing support and comfort to the families of their soldiers, it’s time for the military to join the rest of the country in the 21st century when it comes to recognizing family. As Michelle Obama said in her address:

As America asks more of these families, they have a right to expect more of us. This is our moral obligation.

It’s also a matter of national security. The readiness of our armed forces depends on the readiness of our military families.

So that’s the second part of our task — ensuring that, as a nation, we have the capacity to support and engage our military families at every stage of their lives, over the long term. That requires going forward, together, with a shared vision of the future that our military families deserve.

An announcement below the fold.I wonder, does the right to “expect more” extend to the families of LGB servicemembers? What can those families expect in return for their service? Does the government’s “moral obligation” also extend to this woman’s son? Does the military have an obligation to “support and engage” the families of LGB servicemembers too? I think it does. Unfortunately, they do not at this time.

And from the Blend’s own Keori, this just came into my email box. Servicemembers United is taking this issue head-on. From their just released press release:

WASHINGTON, DC – Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies, today announced the launch of a new online resource to serve the military partner community – www.militarypartners.org. The website is designed to serve as the new home for Servicemembers United’s “Campaign for Military Partners” initiative and will provide links to LGBT-inclusive military resources, a robust blog about the experiences of military partners, a support forum for military partners, media coverage about the plight of partners, and more.

“The civilian partners of gay and lesbian military personnel are often forgotten in the debate over the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United. “These silent heroes must bear all of the same burdens of military family life, but they are not able to share in the support, benefits, or recognition that the military provides to the wives and husbands, and even the girlfriends and boyfriends, of straight troops.”

Nicholson continued, “Long deployments to warzones can be especially difficult times for families and loved ones back home, and the problems are only exacerbated by the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples face, including isolation and an inability to even communicate with the deployed partner. Our Campaign for Military Partners initiative has seen a lot of initial success in reaching out to military partners, and we expect the launch of www.MilitaryPartners.org to go a long way toward providing more and more support to military partners as the project grows.”

The Campaign for Military Partners grew out of the work of a Military Partners Advisory Group that Servicemembers United set up in mid-2009 to help the organization’s leaders identify ways to better support the military partner community. The Campaign’s mission is to reach out to, recognize, connect, and support the civilian partners of active duty LGBT military personnel.

For more information about the Campaign for Military Partners, please go to www.militarypartners.org. For more information on Servicemembers United, please visit www.servicemembersunited.org.

Today’s Letter to the President, from a mother of a active duty gay service member comes at a very appropriate time.

The timing is propitious for this letter, as is the inclusion of the First Lady in the address. First Lady Michelle Obama announced last Wednesday at a National Military Family Association Summit that President Obama has ordered National Security Staff to conduct a 90-day review “to develop a coordinated Federal government-wide approach to supporting and engaging military families.” As it is almost certain the study will not include gay families, Change.org has posted a challenge to Michelle Obama in this endeavor: First Lady Should Include Gay Military Families in New Studies. Citing some of the many difficulties LGB servicemembers’ families face, including:

Same-sex partners get none of the medical benefits, life insurance, or other financial benefits as opposite-sex ones, as I’ve written before. They cannot take advantage of the support services offered to opposite-sex spouses when a spouse is deployed or transitioning back from combat. They cannot dispose of their loved one’s remains if the worst happens.

The children of these servicemembers cannot easily discuss their families with classmates who also have parents in the military. To do so would risk outing their parent(s) and endangering their family’s livelihood. They therefore have no peer group with whom to share their feelings about having a parent deployed, injured, or killed.

Several letter authors in this series too have mentioned their fears about what should happen should they not return from combat? They know their partners will not receive the news of their death from a solemn, respectful, empathetic officer visit. Many fear they may receive it by reading the local newspaper obituary. This needs to stop. The military has a long history of providing support and comfort to the families of their soldiers, it’s time for the military to join the rest of the country in the 21st century when it comes to recognizing family. As Michelle Obama said in her address:

As America asks more of these families, they have a right to expect more of us. This is our moral obligation.

It’s also a matter of national security. The readiness of our armed forces depends on the readiness of our military families.

So that’s the second part of our task — ensuring that, as a nation, we have the capacity to support and engage our military families at every stage of their lives, over the long term. That requires going forward, together, with a shared vision of the future that our military families deserve.

An announcement below the fold. (more…)

Clarknt67

Clarknt67

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