One Door Closes and Another Opens

As I sit here surrounded by the executive leadership of the California Veteran Community.  It’s day 2 of the CalVet Leadership Summit,  a gathering of the Senior and Executive Level leaders of US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, CA Veterans Affairs, the County VSOs,  DAV,  American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America,  Swords to Plowshares, VetFund Foundation, other Veteran Service Organizations from around the state.  I’ve never seen every VA Medical Center and Regional Office, and County  VSO in one room at the same time.  The newly appointed CalVet Secretary, Dr Vito Imbasciani MD called this summit to identify barriers faced by the Veterans of California and create strategies and alliances to better serve the Veterans.  The Secretary and other leaders have set a tone of leaving politics and agendas at the door.

I was asked to attend and represent the LGBT Veterans in the State. The timing of this Summit couldn’t have been more perfect.  I was laid off from my position at VOA as a Peer Support Specialist in the HUD-VASH Program due to lack of funding. With my experience of being an underemployed and homeless Veteran I have an insight in the struggles of the Veterans that most of these leaders don’t know first hand.  At first I asked myself why am I here?  I don’t belong in this room surrounded by these executives with travel budgets and resources to give up a week to travel to the Capitol. However, some how The gods smiled down on me and made this opportunity possible.

When I return back to LA,  I’ll be using the contacts made here to plan the upcoming Operation: Do Ask,  Do Tell 2016 and establish resources and programs for the Veterans in LA,  and possibly find a new position working to continue to serve LGBT Veterans not only in LA but across the State.

Thoughts on the Metro – 10 Sept 2015

Now that I’m using the Metro again to get around I can’t help but use the time to sit in somewhat quiet, especially if I’m using my headphones, and ponder the great many questions about life.  This morning was nothing different, given I was half asleep and we got stuck in the tunnel on the East LA extension of the Gold Line.

With the upcoming LGBT Veteran Event I’m producing at Patriotic Hall, I have many things going on upstairs and have difficulty concentrating on anything for any extended period with out my mind drifting over to the planning and coordination of the event. If you have no clue what ever I’m referring to,  please visit http://op-dadt.aver-gla.org and educate yourself.

Any who,  between thinking about if certain political leaders have confirmed attendance and where I will be placing the many service providers,  I took a moment to enjoy the scenery. And did I ever…. There was this stocky Latino standing across from me, and this guy was a looker. I found myself studying him,  the way he was dressed,  how his head was freshly shaved, the artwork and possible meaning behind his tatts, how he carried himself,  how he walked across the platform,  how he shifted his weight when standing. OK,  I’ll admit I was starring, but I tried not to make it overtly obvious that I was.  I tried to camflauge my stares by looking down at my phone.  And, I ask you what would you be doing in my shoes?

I bring this up cause I finally came to the realization that this is the “type” of guy that gets my attention and I find the most attractive.  I know, how cliche…  Listen up,  I have dated many “types” and races, even sexes… And no not just a typical man and woman,  I’ll let that fester for a min………… When I’m asked what is my “type” I always say,  I don’t have one and that I like all kinds of guys, but at times Latin guys get my attention most of all.

So,  this morning while being stuck in the tunnel I came to realize that I truly have a infatuation, you can say with Latinos. Not just any Latinos, I like the “type” of guy that looks unapproachable, but is a giant teddy bear,  the guy with a shaved head or a very tight fade,  dark brown skin and tattoos. Tattoos and modest body jewelry make any man extra attractive in my book. For the most part, it has to be tasteful and public friendly. Sometimes the gang tatts make me wanna sit on the guy’s face…  OMG, did that just come out? Sorry Mom, I know you’re probably reading this. I’m just being candid and honest. Hell, this my personal blog, and if you’re a new reader thanks for checking me out. Consider yourself warned that there will be times were I throw caution to the wind and let you have it!

Well there you have it,  that’s what I like,  and upon  reflection has been the “type” of guy I have dated or even been with the past few years…  If you find this type to be scary or is a trouble maker, that is not always the case.  I have found that every “type” has its problems, you have to be willing to give everyone at least a chance, you never know what may be right in front of you. I will close on this thought, my “type” of man has proven to have been the best provider and caretaker, and one hell of a lover! 😜

Religious Families Are Disowning A Record Amount Of Homeless Gay Teens | The Gaily Grind

After reading this article I’m truly saddened that this is happening. W as modern Americans can’t allow our youth to be kicked out of their homes and forced to live on the streets. I remember when I was growing up in my home, I moved out at the age of 16, when my father and I would fight constantly. I knew then I was different, and hadn’t come out to myself. I remember him calling me faggot and saying that my friends only wanted me around so they could rake turns on me. It wasn’t until several years later that I even felt comfortable with a man, I fought my true self for years, getting engaged at the end of my senior year, and again in the Army.

We have to create a loving and safe environment for our kids to to grow up in. If we are disowning them in the name of a religion that is supposed to be based on love and acceptance, what message are we truly giving. This is part of the reason why I created Sister Mariposa, she exists to spread joy and acceptance in a world that is cruel. If she can help at least one person, then she can die a happy nun.

Religious Families Are Disowning A Record Amount Of Homeless Gay Teens | The Gaily Grind.

Why I fight…

I know this is from an old episode, but it just proves that I must continue to fight for the rights of my brothers and sisters in arms. So that someday soon, NO Veteran, Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, Coast Gaurdsman, Reservist, or National Gaurdsman has to go thru this again. We first and foremost are men and women  that proudly served our county, and some of us happen to have loved ones that happen to be Lesbian, Gay, Bi or Transgender which deserve to be at our side when we need them the most. Personally I haven’t experienced this, but know many who have. It can be the worst feeling in the world to know that you can’t be there at your loved ones side when they need you, or to properly say good bye. That they had to go thru this tragedy alone, when you aren’t allowed to be there or even recognized as a loved one. Some day soon, we will all be able to enjoy the freedoms and rights as people, and the labels of today will be a thing of the past.

 

AVER: The Iraq War is Over

Below, are the words of one the first Soldiers to be kicked out under DADT. SGT Danny Ingram, who now runs the American Veterans for Equal Rights as their National President.

As of this morning, with the “casing of the colors”, the Iraq War is officially over. As we have for most of this war, the American people will pass this day as if nothing of significance has happened. We are still at war, and the longer of the two wars, the Afghan war, continues. But the ending of the Iraq War has deep meaning to all of us who honor the 4500 American service members who gave their lives there for their country, among them, Major Alan G. Rogers, a member of AVER, and the first publicly known LGBT American to die in combat. Those of you who knew Alan will know what we have lost in a way the rest of us cannot fully experience. You feel the hole in your heart. As the number of Americans who feel that hole in their hearts becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of the population, those of us who know the cost of war must remind our fellow citizens that the price is always measured in the blood of our honored dead. Lives lost, and lives shattered, will always be the cost of taking our great nation to war. We must never forget the reality of making that decision, and it should never be a decision too easily reached. I encourage each of you to take a moment today to be silent and honor the men and women who gave their lives defending our freedom in Iraq. The war in Iraq was a controversial one, and Americans still disagree as to whether or not it was necessary. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen do not enjoy the luxury of such debates. They go where they are told, always in the defense of our constitution, regardless of the mission. To Alan Rogers, and to each of the honored Iraq dead, I am grateful for the lives which each of you lay down for your country. May your names, and the sacrifices you made, be forever honored by a grateful nation.

Danny Ingram, National President American Veterans for Equal Rights

NVF attends the 2011 AVER National Convention

Just recently on Thursday, October 6, 2011, Apolonio E. Muñoz III the NVF Outreach Coordinator boarded a plane for Albuquerque, NM. Apolonio was heading to the Land of Enchantment to attend the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) National Convention which was hosted at the Sandia Courtyard Hotel, October 6-9, 2011. With the recent passage and certification of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) Repeal, this was an opportune time to get the facts from one of the organizations responsible for this piece of legislature that will forever change the history of the most powerful militaries on Earth.

At the AVER National Convention, Apolonio had the pleasure to meet several brave men & women who were integral parts of the DADT Repeal, such as: LTC Steve Loomis, US Army (Ret), LTC Victor Fehrenbach, US Air Force (Ret), SSG James Apedaile, US Army (Ret), SGT Danny Ingram (Discharged from the US Army under DADT), SSG Anthony Loverde (Discharged from the US Air Force under DADT), MAJ Mike Almy (Discharged from the US Air Force under DADT) & last but definitely not least COL Andy Leonard, US Army (Ret). That was just a hand full of those that were in attendance. Apolonio also had the pleasure of meeting Bill Toledo, a Navajo World War II Marine Veteran and one of the famous “Code Talkers” who were able to use their unwritten language to help defeat the Japanese in the Pacific. Apolonio was also scheduled to attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, “The Greatest Show off the Earth”, as part of the Convention. However the weather didn’t cooperate & several showings were cancelled.

Throughout the Convention there were presentations by LTC Fehrenbach & MAJ Almy about their experiences with DADT, and the work they are currently doing with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). There was also a presentation from ACLU-New Mexico who is currently doing a class action lawsuit against the Dept of Defense for those who were discharged under DADT and had their separation pay reduced by 50%. This case is spearheaded by ACLU-NM with the assistance of SLDN and is still in litigations at this time; NVF will post more information about this case as more information is provided. SLDN is attempting to work with the Dept of Defense to resolve any issues that stemmed from the DADT Policy. Now that the policy is no longer on the books, there still is the issue of upgrading Discharges, Re-Entry Codes, Discharge Narratives, Loss of Pay, and Loss of Time in Service/Rank. There are many people whom were discharged under DADT who wish to renter the service onto Active Duty and can’t unless these issues are addressed. With the current Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, and anything else will not be recognized by the federal government. DOMA creates a sub-class of members of the US Armed Forces, just as DADT had done. Without the passage of a repeal of DOMA, the service members who have a spouse of the same sex, that is recognized in the state that they reside is barred from adding said spouse to their benefits. Furthermore, if the servicemember is relocated on orders to another state that doesn’t recognize the marriage or relocated out of Country, that spouse will not be eligible for the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. In most cases the spouse will not get anything and will not be able to move with the servicemember creating a rift in the battle readiness of the US Armed Forces. One last issue that is being fought is the inclusion of Transgender service members in the DADT Repeal. Currently as it stands this class of American Citizens whom wish to serve their country are barred from doing so.

Another issue that has was brought up at the Convention, would be the treatment of LGBT Veterans by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA). When DADT was enacted many service members were discharged with less than Honorable Discharges barring them from VA Benefits. The VA has countless reports of maltreatment of its LGBT Patients, which is violation of the Patient’s rights & discriminatory on bases of sexual identity & preference. This type of discrimination is not tolerated in any medical facility outside of the VA, so why is the VA doing this. Being that all these issues are still being litigated in Federal Court, the NVF will be monitoring them and passing on any & all information regarding them.

Apolonio will be working with the AVER National Board in the coming months to assist them in reforming their Greater Los Angeles Chapter. He will also be working as a liaison between AVER & SLDN to make sure that the NVF Team is up to date on the developments pertaining to these hot button issues, as they directly affect the Veterans and Servicemembers that the NVF is here to help.

(American Veterans for Equal Rights( AVER), founded in 1990, is a non-profit, chapter-based association of Active, Reserve and Veteran Servicemembers dedicated to full and equal rights and equitable treatment for all present and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), founded in 1993, is a non-profit legal services, watchdog, and policy organization. It is dedicated to ending discrimination and harassment of gay and lesbian U.S. military personnel negatively affected by the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which was enacted in 1993. The SLDN documented over 700 violations in the policy’s first two years of operation. As of January, 2011, SLDN has provided legal aid to more than 10,000 servicemembers.)

Update on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

I know this is a little late, but here is an update on the DADT Repeal that is currently undergoing. The DOD is moving along swiftly to have this repeal done once and for all. Here is the most current DOD press release:

‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal Training Set to Begin

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2011 – Training will begin shortly for experts in certain specialties and leaders as part of the plan for finalizing repeal of the law that bars gay men, lesbians and bisexuals from serving openly in the military, the chief of staff for the Defense Department’s repeal implementation team said here today.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Steven A. Hummer outlined the process in an interview.

President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the law commonly known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Dec. 22, beginning a process that will culminate in full repeal.

The current policy remains in effect until 60 days after the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president certify the military’s readiness to implement the repeal.

Gates has said he wants repeal done expeditiously and effectively, and that it can happen this year.

Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, issued a memo Feb. 10 to the military secretaries on the implementation plan. “The memo continues the pre-implementation process,” Hummer said. Now, the general added, the team is ensuring all the policies are prepared so that when repeal day actually occurs they will go into effect.

The implementation team also is ensuring that training is in place for all 2.2 million members of the military.

The Defense Department, along with representatives from all five services, developed and synchronized the training..

“The services will each put their colors and their appropriate culture into those[plans],” he said. “The Navy will talk about petty officers, and the Marines will talk about sergeants.”

Training is broken into three tiers. “Tier 1 and Tier 2 training will start in earnest soon,” the general said. Tier 1 training is for people who have unique skill sets, such as chaplains, lawyers, personnel specialists, military investigators and recruiters, he explained. Tier 2 training is for leaders, and Tier 3 training is for the force at large.

“This is leader-led training,” Hummer said. “Our over-arching theme is leadership, professionalism, discipline and respect.”

Leaders at every level will be responsible for training their people, he said. “Professionalism is the expectation across all the services,” Hummer said. “This is a disciplined force, and we expect to see that as the training and repeal go into place. Lastly, respect is what everybody expects to receive and what everybody should give.”

The training will include some PowerPoint presentations with vignettes to encourage discussions, as well as presentations by the service chiefs that will introduce the topic and provide their intents for the forces.

The services will deliver the first of many progress reports to Stanley on March 1.

Biographies:
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Steven A. Hummer
Related Sites:
Special Report: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
News Release

You can read up on more of the Repeal Process here from the DOD’s official site on this topic.

Duty, Honor, Country: Betrayed

Upcoming documentary on the battle that is brewing in Los Angeles, CA. The Social Elite vs. Homeless Veterans, with ground-zero being in Brentwood, where the richest and most powerful reside. This is a disgrace, and I stand by these Veterans who gave their lives, and in 1880 over 300 acres where given to US Veterans, to live and receive care at, and the community around the West LA VA Grounds are using their power and money to lock the Homeless Veterans out for good. Will you stand by them?

For more information go to Homeless Vet Movie

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