Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

We’ve heard many joyous stories of service members and same-sex military couples living openly since the implementation of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal, but there also are somber reminders of why full equality in the military is so important. Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tracy Dice lost her wife, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson, late last year in Afghanistan at the hands of a suicide bomber. According to the American Military Partner Association, it’s believed that Dice and Johnson are the first military couple to experience a casualty since DADT ended.

Dice faced a series of obstacles because, despite being legally married to her wife, the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing her marriage. While she received support from both the military and her wife’s family, she is ineligible for monthly compensation, survivor benefits, and VA education benefits available to spouses in opposite-sex marriage who lose their husband or wife. Dice did not receive a casualty assistance officer, and instead worked with the one assigned to her wife’s family, and she was technically not even eligible for support in traveling to Dover Air Force Base to meet her wife’s remains – though the military did provide her transport anyway.

Check out the video below to hear Dice’s story. It’s a powerful reminder about why we must continue the fight for full equality in the military:

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