AMPA be­comes sav­ing grace for ATL cou­ple

GA Voice - - LGBT Military -

By DARIAN AARON daaron@the­gavoice.com

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.

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