In the final days of Pride Month, the United States Army highlighted the story of a "transgender female" officer whose life was allegedly saved after "coming out." Meanwhile, the military is battling the worst recruiting crisis since the beginning of the all-volunteer service in 1973.
The Army featured an article titled "Living Authentically Saves Soldier's Life," which featured the "coming out" story of Major Rachel Jones, an Army Sustainment Command Cyber Division chief.
According to the article, Jones "lived every day deeply depressed and suicidal" before publicly coming out as a transgender woman.
"When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s there was a lot of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. I don't think many people meant to do that, but it's something I heard as I was growing up repeatedly. So much so that I was convinced I was inherently evil for being transgender," Jones stated. "The pressure of hiding all of the time was so bad I grew up depressed and suicidal to the point that I always had a plan to end my life."
"Even when deployed, the greatest threat to my own safety was myself," Jones added.
Stephanie Allers, a program specialist and suicide prevention liaison for the Army, claimed that depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideation risks are twice as high for veterans and active-duty soldiers who identify as LGBT+ but "have concealed their true selves," the Army's article stated.
"One reason for this is the chronic, toxic stress experienced by those who need or opt to hide their true self and those who have experienced loss of support or interpersonal and professional relationships because of their identity or sexual orientation," Allers said.
According to the Army's article, "The relief from living as one's true self is known to help prevent suicide."
Jones stated that since identifying as trans, people and the Army have been supportive.
In addition to the Army's article, Jones was also featured in a video on the United States Army Sustainment Command's social media.
For the video, Jones explained the importance of Pride Month.
"What Price Month means to me is celebrating that diversity is our strength as a nation and as an army," Jones said. "Pride means something very special to me as an LGBTQ individual and it's a chance to show everyone what we have to offer in terms of the diverse skill sets that we bring and the diverse ways of thinking we into the team to make everything work better."
The Army's celebration of LGBT-identifying individuals was part of a broader Department of Defense Pride Month campaign.
"As the largest employer in the world, DoD's reputation as a diverse and inclusive organization is essential to attracting and retaining the highly qualified talent necessary to execute our national security mission," the memo stated.
The Navy came under fire earlier this year for running an ambassador program that featured a soldier dressed in drag. According to the Navy, the program was "designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates" amid "the most challenging recruiting environment since the start of the all-volunteer force."
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