ampa-photo-hisakoBy: Hisako Sonethavilay

Recently, I was honored to represent Blue Star Families at the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) inaugural West Coast Gala in San Diego. Each year, AMPA hosts an inspiring and all-inclusive gala in Washington, D.C. to share significant legislative milestones and other successes in the LGBT military community. BSF served as a Community Sponsor for the West Coast Gala.

 My husband and I left the evening extraordinarily moved by the bravery of our LGBT military and their families.

During the Gala, distinguished honorees spoke of a time when service members and their families had to maneuver the challenges of the military lifestyle in secrecy under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. Honorees mentioned the significance of September 20, the fifth anniversary of the DADT repeal, giving the military community a lot to celebrate especially with recent milestones around the ending of the transgender military ban.
Blue Star Families had the honor of awarding AMPA with a laptop, compliments of Dell, for AMPA’s instrumental assistance in supporting our annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey this year. As a trusted resource among LGBT military families, AMPA provided important background on the needs of the community and helped us achieve our highest LGBT response rate to date.

ampa-2After the event, a Navy service member thanked me for everything Blue Star Families does for military families. I replied that it’s in Blue Star Families’ mission to strengthen and connect our military family community and LGBT families are part of this military community. I was surprised when the service member gave me a big hug and thanked me for that sentiment.

Navigating this military life as a family member can be challenging. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to not be able to acknowledge your loved ones or be able to ask for help. I am thankful that as a military community, we continue to move towards significant milestones in welcoming a more inclusive, diverse, and – consequently – stronger All-Volunteer Force.