Lyndsey and Danielle solidified their relationship by building a strong foundation, and what better beginning than by meeting at an indoor rock climbing gym. Having met in April of 2011, they are both originally from New York and are currently going through their very first deployment together. A First Lieutenant in the New York National Guard, Lyndsey will be deployed for about ten months as an Operations Office. Danielle is enrolled in an Occupational Therapy Assistant program with a focus on special-needs kids, drug addicts, and Soldiers with PTSD. As synchronicity would have it, Lyndsey also has a background in massage therapy, and wants to pursue a private practice in massage therapy/bodywork and energy healing after her deployment.
Right now, they are hands on with their 3-year-old Great Dane/German Shepard mix named Mochi, who commiserates with Danielle while Lyndsey is deployed. Before deployment, a peer advised them to get married to take advantage of benefits a spouse would be entitled to. Unfortunately for Danielle and Lyndsey, those benefits don’t apply to same-sex couples. The most devastating blow to same-sex couples is not being denied access to something like low prices at the commissary, but the potential to be denied contact with their loved one in the case of an emergency or fatality. If an emergency befell Danielle, Lyndsey would most likely not be permitted to go home, and if an injury or worse happened to Lyndsey, Danielle would not be notified with priority as other spouses are. Unfortunately for families like theirs, those critical moments can mean everything.
Danielle and Lyndsey have a strong spiritual connection to each other, and this plays a role in helping Danielle stay strong and grounded during Lyndsey’s deployment. Trying to maintain that connection while Lyndsey is away, Danielle said, “When we see the moon, no matter where we are on earth, we still get to see the same moon. I also send her care packages filled with her favorite treats, and I hide notes in them.”
Lyndsey offers a Soldier’s perspective of how she and Danielle prepared for her deployment: “Communication is key, especially prior to deployment. Let your partner know your fears and doubts so you have a chance to be there for each other, hold each other, cry together and have an idea of the upcoming emotional challenges you’ll be facing. Try your best to let go of anger, as it is truly masked sadness. The anger will push you both away.” Danielle adds “Stay positive. If you feel angry or upset, close your eyes and get in touch with the underlying cause, and express it. If Lyndsey hasn’t called in a while, my ego gets activated and I just assume that maybe she is starting to forget about me, or doesn’t care as much, or something bad happened. In reality, she is usually just busy. I get myself all worked up by assuming things, so that is really something I try not to do anymore. I try to focus on all of the things I love about her, and how much better life is for me when she’s by my side, and that gets me through the tough times. Lyndsey created a special mixed playlist on my iPod for me. She put over 50 songs that contain loving and reassuring messages for me. I listen to it every day and feel close to her despite being nearly 7,000 miles away.”
AMPA has offered Danielle a place of refuge from the isolation many same-sex military partners and spouses feel. She said, “Not only does AMPA work hard to raise awareness and promote equality for our families, but the members have been so supportive and loving during difficult times. I am honored to be a member and be able to offer that support to other members as well. We really take care of each other like a family and it’s a wonderful thing to be part of.”