AMPA becomes saving grace for ATL couple
By DARIAN AARON firstname.lastname@example.org
RayShawn Chandler doesn’t recall exactly how she came across the American Military Partner Association’s (AMPA) website, but there is one thing she’s certain of—as the wife to deployed Army reservist Avery Chandler—the discovery was her saving grace.
Under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), LGBT soldiers were expected to live a life of secrecy or risk their careers and livelihood. And with virtually no organized support network, the spouses of these soldiers were also pushed to the periphery and rendered invisible. It’s a reality that RayShawn would have faced when Avery was deployed to Kuwait in 2014, leaving the mother-to-be alone to deal with the fear that accompanies military service overseas.
Enter AMPA, the nation’s largest resource and support network for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s LGBT service members and veterans. And for RayShawn, a resource that not only provided the crucial support she needed during Avery’s deployment and connected her to other military spouses, but kept her from losing it altogether during their separation.
“I tried to keep busy as much as possible while she was gone. I took to different social media outlets,” says RayShawn. “For example, AMPA— cause baby, let me tell you, it was not easy, especially during the first four months.”
Avery, an Atlanta police officer and RayShawn, a Delta flight attendant, were able to find a silver lining in one of the major perks of RayShawn’s job when she was able to fly to Amsterdam and Paris to meet Avery while on leave during the fourth and eighth month marks of her deployment. It’s a perk the couple doesn’t take for granted and one that isn’t available to most military spouses, which makes deployment all the more challenging and AMPA even more necessary.