OutServe-SLDN Hails Enrollment Day
Washington, DC – Tuesday marks a milestone for LGBT service members and our families as the process of issuing ID cards and enrolling dependents in military benefit programs begins. This step removes significant barriers to service and financial hardship for military families. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have approached implementation very carefully and we anticipate very few, if any, major problems.
Military families need to know this is only one step in the process. Applying for housing allowances, medical care, updating IRS tax withholding, military personnel files, and other benefits have separate enrollment procedures. Most commands have developed checklists to assist newly married service members with this process.
Over the next several days, military personnel, finance, medical, housing, and other offices are going to begin dealing with LGBT families for the first time. There will be unanticipated complications and the Military Services are prepared to assist in resolving issues. If service members encounter barriers and can’t resolve them through the military chain-of-command, contact our legal team at 1-800-538-7418×100 or 202-328-3244×100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“OutServe-SLDN is pleased to see these steps by the military services. Service members and their families have long been denied fair and equal treatment. Tuesday begins our steps forward on benefits that will begin to resolve this inequality. We look forward to the day when such barriers are eliminated,” stated April Heinze, OutServe-SLDN board chair.
OutServe-SLDN board member and Hospital Corpsman Second Class Jeffry Priela-Tam, currently at Camp Lejuene, NC, says this day has been a long time coming for him and husband, Chris. “It comes as a great relief because now I don’t have to pay out of pocket to live off base while forced to maintain a barracks room. It’s a huge step towards equality. I can’t wait for the day when all states that do not currently recognize our marriage will come to their senses and fall on the right side of humanity.”
Significant barriers to service remain. These include transgender service, access to military equal opportunity programs, updating Status of Forces Agreements to allow family members to accompany service members on overseas assignments, ensuring access to veteran benefits, updating the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and ensuring a positive and supportive command climate to strengthen our military culture of inclusion. OutServe-SLDN continues working to empower, support, and defend LGBT service members, veterans, and families.