Tammy Smith was promoted yesterday (10 July) to brigadier general. As reported by the publication Stars and Stripes, Smith is the first general officer to come out while serving.
‘It is indeed a new era in America’s military when our most accomplished leaders are able to recognize who they are and serve the country they love at the same time,’ noted Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s executive director Aubrey Sarvis. ‘Brigadier General Smith made history today – not only as an exemplary service member who renders outstanding service to our nation with integrity and honor – but as a proud lesbian acknowledging the tremendous sacrifice her family makes in order for her to serve and advance.’
The private ceremony for the 49 year old was held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, at Arlington National Cemetery located in the southern state of Virginia. Smith’s wife, Tracey Hepner, was part of the official party and participated in the pining ceremony. Hepner is a co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition, an organization focused on benefits and military programs for same-sex partners.
‘I am just so pleased that my family could participate in this ceremony today,’ Smith said as reported by OutServe magazine.
‘For years, gay and lesbian generals and admirals were forced to hide their families in order to protect their careers,’said Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate and member of the OutServe board of directors. ‘It is a great day for our military and for our nation when this courageous leader is finally able to recognize her wife for her support and sacrifice in the same way that all military families should be recognized for their service to our country.’
Gen Smith is now the deputy chief of staff for the Army Reserve. Her job duties include pay and benefits and support for for Army Reserve families.