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OutServe Magazine | April 23, 2014

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Ask Sarge: On Coming Out & Partner Benefits

Ask Sarge:  On Coming Out & Partner Benefits
Ask Sarge

Dear Sergeant,

I write because I need an outside opinion. I am a currently serving bi Soldier, and I am writing because I need advice about coming out. I have questioned my own sexuality since middle school and became solid in what I was a few years ago. I was always afraid to act on anything or tell anyone, but a few close friends, because of DADT. Now with the repeal of DADT, I am feeling more bold to actually come out to friends and family. I love my friends and family and I am afraid of losing those relationships though. My family has already hinted that they would love me no matter what (which leads me to believe they already suspect something), but I am still afraid.

My support structure is minimal because I recently got PCS’d overseas and am currently deployed … so I am away from those who could provide me that support. I just don’t want to feel like I am hiding anymore … please offer some advice. Thanks.

Franklin

Hello Franklin!

Good for you on considering coming out! This is a VERY big step, and any of us who have gone through it are well aware of the challenges it can pose. Please understand that it takes a lot of inner strength and self confidence to even initiate this process, so I applaud you.

The coming out process really helps to define your support system. You will quickly realize who your true friends are and where your family members stand on the issue. Like many big steps, the hardest part is actually DOING it. You will have all kinds of thoughts and fears and hesitations going through your head because, to you, it is easier to live the lie for another day than to deal with the potential negative consequences attached to coming out.

As for your recent change in location and circumstances, my best suggestion is to get involved in groups that you can connect with. Find a hobby or get enrolled in a sport or class of some kind. OutServe is an amazing resource, full of people from all over the world, in every different service, who are struggling with, or have struggled with the exact same thing that you are going through. If you are not already a member, then I would highly recommend that you find a local chapter in the listing at the front of this magazine. If you are already a member, then I suggest getting plugged in to your local chapter so you can begin meeting people in the area to build that support system that is so vital. I wish you the best!

Sergeant

Dear Sergeant,

My partner of approximately 17 years and I were married in California when it was legal. We where wondering if he would be eligible for any benefits / resources as my spouse after DADT is repealed and after I retire from the military – he has never served in the military. Thanks!

Broc

Hello Broc!

Congratulations on spending 17 long years with your partner! Let me tell you what I know about the current policy changes regarding DADT and benefits for your spouse.

The Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has published a list of “Member-Designated Benefits”. This is a great resource listing all of the different benefits that your spouse is entitled to. You can view this list by logging on to:
www.sldn.org/pages/benefits-and-pay

Additionally, a new federal policy was approved which allows dependents of LGBT DoD Civilian employees to receive medical benefits under their spouse. Hopefully, this policy will spread a little further and cover all federal employees, including service members and retirees. I truly hope that this information was helpful to you.

Sincerely,
Sergeant