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Air Force To Help Families With Gay And Trans Kids Fly Away From States Run By A-Holes
We'll just assume the GOP Asshole Caucus will ground the entire Air Force.
The US Air Force (and also the Space Force, too) announced last month, to little notice, that it will be offering help to servicemembers and their families if they're affected by the various anti-LGBTQ laws being passed by Republican-led states. Mind you, the Air Force hasn't mentioned anything openly partisan, because that's just not done. But the service did let its members know that the USAF is there to help with medical or legal assistance if they or their kids need it because of the new laws.
The press release puts it as apolitically as humanly possible, which may be why the offer of assistance hasn't gotten much press:
Various laws and legislation are being proposed and passed in states across America that may affect LGBTQ Airmen, Guardians, and/or their LGBTQ dependents in different ways.
The Department of the Air Force has assignment, medical, legal and other resources available to support Airmen, Guardians and their families.
Probably a good idea to not name any states or specific laws, or even to say the laws are discriminatory; there's little chance, though, that servicemembers worried about the laws' effects on their families aren't plenty aware of what's going on in states where they're stationed.
HuffPo notes that the Air Force is the only military service — so far — to offer such help. Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones makes clear in the announcement that it's a matter of making sure Air Force members get all the benefits of military service, regardless of what state they're assigned to:
The health, care and resilience of our DAF personnel and their families is not just our top priority – it’s essential to our ability to accomplish the mission. We are closely tracking state laws and legislation to ensure we prepare for and mitigate effects to our Airmen, Guardians and their families. Medical, legal resources, and various assistance are available for those who need them.
The announcement tells servicemembers to go to Air Force medical facilities if they "need help with screening, treatment, or mental health support for medical concerns." It diplomatically doesn't mention specific terrible policies like Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott's order that families be investigated for "child abuse" if they seek gender-affirming care for their minor children. (That policy has been put on hold by a judge's order for now.)
The memo also reminds servicemembers that on-base legal offices are a "free source of information for personnel who need assistance navigating new and existing local laws," although it also points out that the offices can't directly represent servicemembers or their kids in legal disputes. Still, they can "provide vital advice and council."
Also too, the Air Force lets its members know that if it comes to it, the service can help them get assigned to a different location through the "Exceptional Family Member Program." Again, the statement doesn't explicitly say that's what members should do if they're stationed in one of the 15 states that have banned or are considering bans on gender-affirming care. But again, Undersecretary Jones made it very easy to read between the lines:
As is the case with all of our family members, if the support a family member needs becomes unavailable, commanders can work to get the service member to an assignment where their loved ones can receive the care they need.
This is all remarkably smart and thoughtful of the Air Force, and a pleasant change from the days when the USAF — and the Air Force Academy in particular — seemed to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fundagelical Jesus Inc.
The LGBTQ rights group Human Rights Campaign is glad to see it. Spokesperson Delphine Luneau told HuffPo,
"Like any good employer, the Air Force is taking steps to support their service members and their families.”
Luneau added, “We hope service members and their family members who are being affected by the wave of discriminatory legislation in many state legislatures will take advantage of the supportive services that the Air Force is offering, and HRC will continue working toward the repeal of these terrible laws.”
A USAF spokesperson told HuffPo that the service hadn't yet fielded any requests for legal help, and added that if there's been any uptick in Air Force members or their families using counseling or mental health services, that can't be measured because the Air Force doesn't track it — which seems to us like probably a good privacy thing?
As of yet, GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz hasn't yet attempted to defund the Air Force for treating its LGBTQ+ members like human beings, but we have little doubt he or one of the other rightwing jerks who say the hell with the troops will insist the Air Force stop being so woke, or on autoeroticpilot, or some damn thing.
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