Melvin & Randy

Valentine’s Day is a special time of year for all of us, but it is a very special time of year for Melvin and Randy. This year, February 10th marked the 14th anniversary for them. The couple met when they were both stationed in North Carolina. Melvin was a Marine at New River Air Station with MALS 29 and Randy was a Naval Hospital Corpsman serving at Camp Lejeune with 2nd Marine Div. After meeting each other, they attended and graduated college together and even served in the same reserve units after leaving active duty. They had every intention of ending their military lives after college, but that isn’t where it ended. Randy had always wanted to become a Commissioned Officer and the two felt that it would be their best option. So after leaving active duty in 2000, Randy returned four years later to get his commission through Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA, graduating in January of 2005. He is now an Army Captain working as the operations officer at the DES at Fort Meade, Maryland. They have 8-10 more years of military life ahead of them, but after that Melvin gets to take the wheel. Randy plans on following wherever Melvin’s career takes them.

Melvin left active duty in 1999 and is now pursuing his Masters Degree in Health Communications. The medical field offers him the opportunity to be flexible in his career. Often times the spouse of a military soldier sacrifices a lot of his or her career to support the soldier they serve along with. If the couple had a crystal ball, Melvin believes he would have chosen a nursing degree that would allow for more flexibility to be mobile with the numerous PCS moves they have endured together.  They have learned to overcome all that life inside and outside of the military has to throw at them. While they’d like to become parents someday and provide a child a stable enjoyable life with culture that expands borders and even continents, for now its Catonsville, Maryland, that they call home, with their two dogs, a Schnauzer-Terrier mix named Spartacus and a Doberman Pinscher named Apollo.

Melvin is from Jacksonville, Florida, and Randy is from Booneville, Arkansas. They have been through five PCS moves together and one combat tour. Randy was deployed to Iraq as an MP platoon leader at FOB Warhorse and FOB Normandy. During this time, Randy helped to train Iraqi Police. If you asked his partner, Randy is strong willed like no other, even at the cost of being stubborn at times. He is giving beyond measure. His strong protective nature makes him want those around him to feel secure. Another thing that really shines about Randy is the pride and respect he has for his Soldiers and the respect they have for him in return. Randy feels Melvin’s ability to adapt to the drastic changes required of a military spouse without the resources that so many take for granted inspires him. He is resourceful and able to make friends in any situation.  Melvin is also one of the prime motivators for Randy; he constantly helps him to remain physically and emotionally fit, from weight training to spiritual awareness. Melvin ensures a good balance of healthy living so the stresses of daily life are kept in check.

The couple learned about AMPA from a friend and have found that the group gives them the networking resource to help cope with the stresses of military life, since the Army does not recognize them as a family. Now that DADT is gone, Randy and Melvin hope that LGBT couples will have the outreach support that was not there before. There is a huge burden lifted off of their shoulders since the repeal of DADT, but a change in the current laws and regulations could really benefit this family. Melvin’s school options would open by allowing him the same in-state tuition benefits military dependents receive when their spouse is stationed from state to state.  They would also have more options for a stable and productive life when they retire from the military. It was always hard for the couple to move and tell all the “little white lies” they had to tell to stay together, but it goes deeper than that. At times, Melvin had to go without health benefits and the ease of mind offered to heterosexual couples in the Armed Forces.

In Melvin and Randy’s words: “AMPA helps the couple feel like they are part of a family when their beloved is off fighting for the freedoms and rights of all.” They have advice for AMPA members and other military couples going through their first deployments. Make friends that compliment your relationship. When you are missing them or just scared where they may be or what they are going through without you, having people that support you and your partner and are there when you need an ear really helps to make those days easier. Keep your communications skills strong and always find that time to enhance your relationship. The little things really do count. Letters, Skype, or even short phone calls make all the difference to keep that bond and romance strong. Be patient to understand the stresses each are faced with because of deployment.

Comments

  1. Kelly Conroy says:

    What a nicely written article! Melvin and Randy are an inspiring couple!

  2. John C says:

    Randy and Melvin are a wonderful couple! I love those guys!

  3. Vanessa says:

    What a great article! You two really are an inspirational couple and I’m so happy for you that you can share your love for each other and your great story, publicly…..finally!

  4. Bonnie Nicholson says:

    Randy is my younger brother, and I could not be prouder than I am. He is a great man, as is Melvin. I’m so glad that they can finally acknowledge their relationship publicly and no longer feel the need to lie or cover up what they mean to one another. I hope that one day soon they will be able to share the same rights and benefits of heterosexual couples, as they deserve it. The love they have for one another is amazing, and they are truly wonderful men. I love you Randy and Melvin.

  5. krista says:

    Randy was my LT in Iraq. He was an awesome leader. Randy did not have to demand respect from his soldiers, because he gave respect and treated us all the same whether we were a private or another officer! I think this article nailed it when they mentioned that he cares for his soldiers. There was nothing I couldnt talk to him about. Then, I met Melvin when we moved up the street. He really is an amazing person! I believe Melvin can make anyone smile and feel good about themselves….such a positive, sweet, refreshing cocktail of motivation and happiness! I couldnt ask for better friends. I love you guys!

  6. Supporter says:

    I dare someone to tell these guys they can’t have the same rights we as straight people share.

  7. KELLYI says:

    This is such a wonderfully written article. And the couple seem like they are very happy and flexible. This is beautiful

  8. Same Boat says:

    It’s crazy how similar our situation is to there out there and for the longest time we thought we were the only ones suffering through this harder than normal lifestyle. My partner and I met in tech school, have been together 9 years. We’ve survived 2 PCS’s, 3 of my own deployments and 3 of her own. Now being stationed in Guam we find it hard for her to attend school, find a good job, find medical care and so much more. Hopefully by our next assignment things will beginning to work for us rather than against us.

  9. Faith says:

    Loved the article! So happy you guys don’t have to hide your relationship. Now, give you the same rights as all military families. Maybe that will happen once we’re all free to marry who we love, regardless of gender.

  10. Evelyn Deming says:

    This is a VERY inspiring story!! I hope one day soon you both can have your relationship recognized as it should be- my wife and I are very much in love and committed but we are only LEGALLY married in NY. We cant share health benefits ( I’m a nursing student) etc., etc, etc. I belive that one day soon we will have the same rights as heterosexual couples- until then lets all keep loving each other:)
    Congrats gentlemen on being such great human beings and showing other people that we all love and breath the same! Wishing you a lifetime of love and happiness !!

  11. Joel C. Plaza says:

    They are lovable couple and supportive.GOD BLESS THEM.

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