By J.G. Noll
When Ashley Broadway-Mack received an invitation yesterday to be in attendance for an awards program at the Pentagon, she wasn’t sure she was going to go. Her wife, Heather, serves in the Army and had a meeting that she couldn’t get out of. That meant that their daughter would need child care, and getting it in D.C.– even when the Pentagon calls– is tricky.
The Pentagon was insistent, telling her to bring her daughter and wife along. So Broadway-Mack did.
It turned out that she was one of the recipients at the awards ceremony.
Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, presented Broadway-Mack with the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award for her “steadfast commitment to ensuring our force provides support to meet the changing nature and needs of our military families.”
The ceremony was a far cry from the way she was forced to live the majority of her 19 years as an Army spouse during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Then, in 2013, she made national news when the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses rejected her application, citing a new ID rule. The trick? Even though Broadway-Mack and her wife were legally married, the Defense of Marriage Act denied her many benefits, including a military ID.
In the years since, she has worked in the military community through the American Military Partner Association, the largest organization of LGBT military families and allies. Currently serving as president of the organization, Broadway-Mack is quick to point out that her work benefits all military families: “Even though AMPA does focus on LGBT families, I do feel as though I am an advocate for all military families.”
When reflecting on the award, Broadway-Mack wished she could share it with the whole AMPA team, specifically citing Stephen Peters, the founder and president emeritus. “I wish there was a way that he could be recognized as well as our team, who are all volunteers.” She went on, “We do this because we care and want to see overall acceptance in the military community, and we want to advocate across the board for all military issues.”
AMPA’s Director of Communications, Nick Stone, said, “There is no one more appropriate or more deserving of this award… I am proud to call her my friend, fight by her side to protect our families, and will continue to look to her for guidance as we prepare for uncertain times ahead.”
With the imminent inauguration of a new president and the turn-over of a new administration, Broadway-Mack expressed her dedication to military families: “I hope that we– as in the LGBT community– can continue to be a part of conversations. We do have issues that need to be addressed and talked about, so I really am going to try to continue that dialogue with the leadership of the Pentagon because it’s going to benefit all military families and all service members.”
J.G. Noll is the Editor of Military One Click and a veteran’s spouse. She can be reached at [email protected]