Air Force

June 20, 2014

‘Keep your boots shined’ means I love you

Tags:
Master Sgt. Linda Welz
Air Force Reserve Command Yellow Ribbon public affairs

Master Sgt. Angela Caruso-Yahne, 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, (left) and her spouse, Mandy, pose for a photo at a friend’s wedding. The two legally married July 2013, one month after the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and 14 years after their unofficial wedding. Approaching their sixth deployment together, the couple attended their first Yellow Ribbon event this year.

The veterans
Master Sgt. Angela Caruso-Yahne, 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, has completed five deployments, but number six is the first time she has attended a Yellow Ribbon event.

“From my perspective, I’ve had encouragement from my commander for previous deployments, to attend a Yellow Ribbon event, but it was never palatable for me to do so without my spouse,” she said.

Caruso-Yahne never attended (Yellow Ribbon) because she felt she would get moved into the singles track and not have her situation understood; that she wouldn’t be able to get the resources that she needed. Having met her spouse, Mandy, in college in 1997, the two wed in 1999. One month after the June 2013 repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, they made it legal with a second wedding ceremony.

“I really wanted to know how these things would relate to my spouse, but there was no platform for that conversation (during her previous deployments),” she said. “Just knowing that this resource is here and that it is open to same-sex spouses now has made a world of difference to me. In a sense it feels like my first deployment again because I’m getting all of this information and learning more about the benefits.”

Mandy, who had been through all five deployments with Caruso-Yahne, said she has been begging for something like this because she didn’t grow up in a military family or have any experience with the military.

“I had to ask her all of my questions because I didn’t have any official avenues to go to before (the repeal),” Mandy said.

Because of the law, they were afraid to say ‘I love you’ over the phone, especially during a deployment. So they used code words, Caruso-Yahne said. “’Keep your boots shined’ meant ‘I love you’,” she said.

After the repeal, Mandy looked online for resources and found The American Military Partners Association (AMPA), which she said became a huge resource for her. She said it helped her figure out the bare-bones basics before she could ever come to a Yellow Ribbon event.

“I’ve looked at MilitaryOneSource and others, but AMPA has been the most helpful because it’s people that have same-sex partners,” Mandy said. “They helped me understand what all the court decisions meant and how it was playing out in the DOD, when certain things were going to go into effect, when I could get an ID card and what that ID really meant. Yellow Ribbon helped me understand what the changes are when deployment kicks in.”

After a Yellow Ribbon financial management breakout session and benefits briefing, Caruso-Yahne said she thought it was very professional and well-managed, very clear and equitably stated so there was no question about any sort of favoritism or disregard of any group of people.

“In general, everything across the board (here) has been all-inclusive. There are so many different groups here that it’s not just same-sex partners and heterosexual partners, but there are also parents whose child is deploying, or parents who are deploying and their kids are here, single parents, brothers and sisters,” Mandy said. “I think they’ve been very good about being inclusive of all the different kinds of relationships. Everybody has a very unique situation and support system and no matter what it is, they’re all welcomed to bring their questions (here).”

The new kids on the block
In a fairly new relationship and facing her first deployment, Senior Airman Ellie Fry, 931st Air Refueling Group, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, said she feels the culture of acceptance was there (in the military) before the repeal but that no one was allowed to talk about it.

“In the military we have our own support system–we’re family,” Fry said, alluding to that culture of acceptance despite the laws.

When her base Yellow Ribbon representative told her about the upcoming event, Fry called her then partner, Amanda Drake, to tell her to pack her bags for California. She explained the reason for the trip and said that it would be good for her (Fry), as a first-time deployer, and also beneficial to Drake to understand what to expect and what they both would be dealing with before, during and after the deployment.

“I’m kind of a tough shell. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve,” Drake said. “I really didn’t consider all the emotions that we may go through, but now I realize that I am going to go through stuff.”

They will need to consider time differences in order to arrange calls to each other. They will need to communicate with and trust each other.

“If you don’t have communication, you aren’t going to make it,” Drake said. “You’re going to have to have trust–it’s your foundation. You have to know that your partner is going to support you while you’re gone.”

Both agreed that the Yellow Ribbon event they attended was beneficial in every aspect, including finances, legal issues, what to expect–especially as it relates to mental health and emotions, and that they were treated just like any other couple. Hearing from other couples about what they have been through was educational, Fry said.

They also said it was an experience to be at a military event and to be open with their relationship.

“She’s able to hold my hand and we can be affectionate with each other,” Drake said. “We don’t feel like we have to hid it. I’m not her friend here anymore–I’m her partner and it’s okay to say that. I really didn’t see the military coming this far with it because it was (considered) such a bad thing. People got kicked out just a few years ago for being gay.”

Believing that the law that was in place was the reason it was considered taboo, even though she thinks the underlying culture was one of acceptance in the military, Drake said that no one at the Yellow Ribbon event reacted in an adverse way.

“After all, they’re not going to get our gayness if we touch them, so it’s obvious that it was the laws that were pushing that (culture).”

(Note: Since the interview, and before her deployment, Senior Airman Ellie Fry married her partner and officially became Senior Airman Ellie Drake.)




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Untitled-1

AAFES marks 119 years of serving Airmen

Today, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) celebrates 119 years of proudly serving Airmen, Soldiers and their families. AAFES is the 43rd largest retail organization in the U.S., with annual revenue of more than ...
 
 

Gluten-free diet won’t make you thin

What runs through your mind when you see the words “gluten-free” plastered on your favorite bag of chips in the store? Do you wonder if something inside the bag has changed? “Gluten-free” products are filling the market now that the diet has become popular. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley....
 
 
colonel-john-richard-boyd

‘An Innovator’s DNA’: Col. John Boyd

Surprisingly, few Airmen have heard of Col. John Boyd, with far fewer aware of his innovative contributions to the advancement of modern-day air power. As the Air Staff feverishly reviews the thousands of innovative ideas submi...
 

 

Military Health System introduces telehealth projects

Technology advances, particularly the use of telemedicine, continue to change how Americans receive their healthcare, where they receive their healthcare and the organizational models for managing their healthcare. The Military Health System long has been a pioneer in using telehealth to connect our global force with the most well-trained specialists in our system. Whether it’s...
 
 

March Air Reserve Base Child Care Program

March Air Reserve Base offers the Home Community Care (HCC) Program to the Air Force Reserve (AFR) and the Air National Guard (ANG) members during the primary Unit Training Assembly (UTA) drill weekends. March has four HCC program providers who are state licensed child care providers. Care may also be requested to use during a...
 
 
U.S. Navy photo/Greg Vojtko

NSWC Corona STEPs for future scientists, engineers

U.S. Navy photo/Greg Vojtko Capt. Eric Ver Hage, Commander, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Corona Division, and Gordon L. Bourns, Science and Technology Partnership (STEP) vice president, sign an Education Partnership Agre...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin