Same-sex couple thankful for changing times

Same-sex couple thankful for changing times

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sarah Cartmill, right, 60th Maintenance Squadron and Staff Sgt. Kelsey Cartmill, 60th Air Mobility Wing, pose for a photo at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., September 25, 2018. The duel military same-sex couple have been married for five years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

Same-sex couple thankful for changing times

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sarah Cartmill, left, 60th Maintenance Squadron and Staff Sgt. Kelsey Cartmill, 60th Air Mobility Wing, take their dogs for a walk at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., September 26, 2018. The duel military same-sex couple have been married for five years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

Same-sex couple thankful for changing times

The hands of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sarah Cartmill, 60th Maintenance Squadron and Staff Sgt. Kelsey Cartmill, 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., September 5, 2018. The duel military same-sex couple have been married for five years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

Same-sex couple thankful for changing times

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sarah Cartmill, left, 60th Maintenance Squadron and Staff Sgt. Kelsey Cartmill, 60th Air Mobility Wing, take in a sunset at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., September 26, 2018. The duel military same-sex couple have been married for five years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- For Sarah and Kelsey, a dual military same-sex couple stationed at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., the road to marriage has not been easy. Since they met in 2012, acceptance through legislation, awareness, changes in thoughts and behavior have the couple counting its blessings.

Just 25 years ago, it was illegal to serve in the military as a homosexual. That was until 1993, when the Clinton Administration approved Department of Defense Directive 1304.25 which enacted don’t ask, don’t tell. DADT was the official U.S. policy allowing homosexuals to serve in the military as long as they didn’t reveal their identity or engage in any homosexual activity. For 18 years, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members had to serve in silence.

For Tech. Sgt. Sarah Cartmill, 60th Maintenance Squadron, precision measurement equipment laboratory supervisor, serving as a homosexual was stressful during that time.

“On a personal level, having to conceal my sexual preference had an adverse effect on me,” said Sarah. “I was trying to learn my job and at the same time I wasn’t able to let anyone know who I really was. Professionally, it sort of motivated me by working harder to be the best at my job.”

Under the directive, over 13,000K service members were discharged because of their sexual preference from 1994-2011. Since its repeal, homosexual service members have been able to serve openly without fear of reprisal. The change was hard at first for those who had to serve under DADT.

“It was a relief because I knew and heard of people leaving the military for the same reason I was hiding,” said Sarah. “I was still very reluctant to let anyone know my status because it was all so new.”

In 2013, after the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, the DoD announced it would extend spousal and family benefits for same-sex marriages. This meant that service members could marry someone of the same-sex and be authorized the same benefits of those in traditional marriages.

Benefits like housing, life insurance, medical and education were now an entitlement afforded to spouses no matter what their sexual orientation was. This was a turning point in the life of the Cartmill’s. For Staff Sgt. Kelsey Cartmill, 60th Air Mobility Wing, Judge Advocate NCOIC of operations and training, marrying Sarah was now possible.

“We got married in 2013 in Washington D.C. because it was legal for same-sex couples to marry there,” said Kelsey. “Despite more appeals by states and rulings by judges to come, we were determined to be a couple.”

Sarah and Kelsey began their journey as a same-sex duel military family over five years ago. Since then, they’ve had four assignments, including a remote and even a cross training, the same trials and tribulations any other duel military couple would endure. What they’ve also endured is the uncertainty of how their marriage would be accepted from their family, friends and those they serve with.

“We’re two very confident people so we’re just fine with being ourselves,” said Kelsey. “There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t approve of our lifestyle, and we’ve prepared ourselves to accept that.”

Since the repeal of DADT, serving openly has been a welcomed blessing for those who just wanted to live normal lives according to Ashley Broadway-Mack, President, The American Military Partner Association. Broadway-Mack lived in the shadows for 13 years as the same-sex partner of a service member under the threat of DADT. Her organization in now over 50,000K strong helping LGBT military families.

“Our organization supports LGBT military families,” said Broadway-Mack. “This includes the service member, spouse, veterans, veteran spouses and children of veterans who identify as LGBT.”

In the short period of time since the repeal, Broadway-Mack is pleased with the feedback she’s received from her members. There’s been an acceptance level that has made the transition more welcomed than expected.

“Of course there are some times where we receive information of some issues, over the last seven years we hear less and less of that, which is a great sign,” said Broadway-Mack. “We hear constantly that our families are being welcomed just as any other military family would be welcomed.”

Welcomed is exactly how Sarah and Kelsey would describe it. Every assignment they’ve had, the leadership, their coworkers and peers have treated them like anyone else.

“Our experience in the Air Force since we’ve married has been flawless,” said Sarah. “Everyone has accepted Kelsey and me and that has made our journey so much easier.”

Sarah attributes this attitude with the immediate pro-active approach the AF took to inform members about the repeal of DADT and the expectations they put forth. In 2011, the AF devised a two-tier training approach to help Airmen understand what is expected in a post-repeal environment.

“It should be a testament to the AF that they recognize you as an individual,” said Sarah. “It has nothing to do with your sexuality, it all about the hard work and dedication you put into being an Airman.”

Both Sarah and Kelsey have become involved with helping others who find themselves struggling to come out or take the leap to become a same-sex couple. During Sarah’s remote assignment to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, she helped lead the first ever pride month celebration. Although not typically the quiet introverted personality of Sarah, she felt it was extremely important to help those struggling with their identities and informing them of their benefits.

“I was really proud of Sarah because she put herself out there and that’s not really her personality,” said Kelsey. “She helped a lot of people during that time who otherwise may have not known exactly what to do.”

Since arriving at Travis in 2017, their performance has been exemplary. Kelsey has been accomplishing work filling a position typically held by a senior non-commissioned officer, despite being a three level due to cross training.

“Kelsey is performing at a master sergeant level as a staff sergeant,” said Captain Austin Holtsclaw, 60th Air Mobility Wing, Judge Advocate, chief of adverse actions. “We get taskers from the MAJCOM and 18th Air Force and there’s nothing she can’t figure out and get done. Her future is very bright, she can achieve whatever she desires.”

Sarah is also a standout in her organization. Master Sgt. Danny Thomas, 60th Maintenance Squadron, test measurement diagnostic equipment flight chief, has known Sarah since she came in the Air Force in 2010. He was her instructor at technical school and was ecstatic when he found out they would be stationed together.

“She’s a combination of the ultimate military professional and good-hearted person,” said Thomas. “We tend to overstate a lot that a person will be a future chief master sergeant. When I say it about Sarah, it is absolutely true, I dread the day she doesn’t work for me anymore.”

In the five years since their marriage, Sarah and Kelsey have become closer due to the adversity they chose to face head on. Getting married took some time because of the legalities from appeals and rulings. It took the couple three trips to Washington D.C., just to make their marriage official. That determination to be a couple outweighed any resistance they would face.

“We kind of got married fairly quickly after we met compared to some people.” Said Kelsey. “It’s amazing how much we’ve grown as a couple throughout the years, each year we get stronger.”

Sarah is thankful their persistence didn’t detract them from getting married. There were several times where it would have been easy to give up, but instead, they worked harder to achieve their dream.

“It’s beautiful when she comes home and I still get as excited now as I did five years ago,” said Sarah. “I never get tired of seeing her smile, I picked the perfect person to spend the rest of my life with. If the person you want to be with means a lot to you, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.”

As for now, Sarah and Kelsey plan to make a career of the AF and both aspire to make the rank of chief master sergeant one day. Sarah is an eight Technical Sergeant and Kelsey is a seven year Staff Sergeant with the line number for Tech. Sgt., well on their way to achieving the highest enlisted rank.

“We plan to retire as chiefs,” said Sarah. “Our leadership has recognized us for the hard workers that we are. I love the Air Force, I love what I do.”

Social Media

Facebook Twitter
The Shooting Stars Drones will launch again at around 10:20 p.m. and we will do another live video stream at that time. Thank you for your patience.
#TeamTravis, As we get closer to tonight’s festivities, what part of the celebration are you most looking forward to? In addition, we’ll also be hosting a bounce house, a beer and wine truck, a hotdog and burger food truck, and an on-site DJ. We will also be allowing families to bring in their own food and water as long as the water is in a clear container. Hope to see you all out there!
#DidYouKnow the United States Air Force has a new Airman Against Drunk Driving app available on the App Store and Google Play? Just another way the U.S. Air Force is committed to #NeverDUI
**Edited for clarification*** #TeamTravis, As weather updates continue to come in, the Intel® Shooting Star Drone Light Show show portion may not happen. As of now, the show is still happening, but we're monitoring tomorrow's weather on a minute-to-minute basis and will continue to update you all as we get closer to the event. No matter what, festivities are a go! Airmen and the public are still invited to celebrate with bouncy houses, food trucks, a DJ, and a rock climbing wall! Below are maps to the parking areas and entrance for the event as well as the event location.
Due to forecasted high winds, the scheduled July 3 rehearsal, which was open to DoD ID Cardholders, has been canceled. Please stay tuned for more updates as we monitor the weather for the 4th of July event.
#Repost Visit Fairfield, California -- "There are no active fires near Travis AFB or Solano County. . . . Good morning friends! Solano County photographer James Guzzo was up early for the sunrise and captured these images from our hills. The smoke cloud you can see is from a fire burning in Yolo County. There are no active fires near Fairfield and Solano County. #VisitFairfieldCA"
To all of #TeamTravis and our local community, please be safe! For continued updates, please sign up with alertsolano.com to get them sent straight to your device.
"Anything that is an extension of, what I call, America's power, promise, or ideals, is done through logistics and transportation." --USAF Gen. Darren W. McDew, U.S. Transportation Command commander. Travis #Airmen deliver on that promise...anytime, anywhere. And we're proud it. #NoBounds | #TeamTravis
🎶This is ground control to Major Tom...🎶 Always on the cutting edge, #TeamTravis has recently entered into talks with NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration to establish a research collaboration leading to advances in medical support for deep space missions as well as warfighters. Read more about Travis' potential role in the future of space exploration in the article below. United States Air Force | U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) | Airman Magazine | Air Force Times | AFMS - David Grant USAF Medical Center - 60th Medical Group, Travis AFB | U.S. Military | #NoBounds
Congratulations SMSgt Lucero Stockett, 6th ARS, for being named one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2018! It is a honor to call you a member of #TeamTravis!
This 4th of July, #TeamTravis is partnering with Intel to put on a #patriotic light show with the help of more than 500 individual drones. Check out the video below and visit our event page, Travis AFB 4th of July ft. Intel® Shooting Star Drone Light Show, for a taste of what's to come during next week's jaw-dropping spectacle. United States Air Force | U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) | Airman Magazine | United States | Air Force Times | Military.com | #FourthofJuly ***The DoD does not endorse Intel***
Team Travis Defenders teamed up with #SpecialOlympics athletes to run through Travis AFB and Vacaville, California last week for the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run.
A KC-10 crew recetly completed a mission in the pacific refueling fighters supporting Exercise RED FLAG-Alaska and strengthening relationships between the USAF and the Japan Air Self Defense Force. To learn more click on the photos below. #NoBounds | #EngagingGlobally | #GotFuel
Not only is 2018 the 75th anniversary of Travis but also the 9th Air Refueling Squadrons #75thAnniversary. The diverse history of the 9th ARS includes operating in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations, flying the F-4U Corsair as well as the P-38 Lightning. Click on one of the photos below to see what it means to wear the 9th ARS patch. #GucciPride | #Universal | #Travis75th
This week we salute SrA Steven Fing for being named the #TeamTravis Warrior of the Week. Fing is a Nondestructive Inspection Technician in the 60th MXS. His leadership skills as a shift leader enabled 22 maintenance acts ensuring 620 sorties. #WoW | #Maintenance
#TeamTravis is kind of a big deal in Fairfield, California! On Tuesday during a city council meeting, leadership received a proclamation from the city in honor of celebrating the 75th anniversary of the base. #Servinglocally | #Travis75th
During a recent KC-10 Extender mission, two flying crew chiefs kept the aircraft serviced enabling it to complete a roundtrip journey of more than 9,000 nautical miles and offloaded more than 200,000 pounds of fuel to eight F-15s. #FueltheFight | #RapidGlobalMobility | #NoBounds
The rumors are true! #TeamTravis is celebrating #IndependenceDay with a special light show featuring the Intel Shooting Star Drones. We are opening our gates to the community for this event. Stay tuned for more information! #NoBounds | #PoweredbySpark | #75thAnniversary | AFWERX | Air Mobility Command | Heather Wilson
Gen. Paul J. Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is no stranger to Travis. He has commanded a squadron and a group here in the past. Last Friday #TeamTravis was honored for him to return to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Travis and the 9th ARS. #Travis75th | #NoBounds Check out more images here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmnD5ga6
#PhoenixSpark, Travis's grassroots innovation program is kindling connections and spreading ideas on their new LinkedIn page! Airmen, community members, and business leaders alike, join the conversation as we deliver tomorrow's tools to the Warfighter today! #PoweredBySpark https://www.linkedin.com/company/travis-afb-phoenix-spark/
RT @GenChuckYeager: Thank you all for your kind birthday wishes. They say 96 is the new 60 :-)
2003-2019 "Good night, sweet prince." #ThanksOppy https://t.co/fST8YQLbqX
#TeamTravis, Be careful today with the current inclement weather! Take it slow on the roads and heed local advisor… https://t.co/y3Fr231iqr
RT @usairforce: #AirForce maintainers assigned to the 60th Air Mobility Wing work to lower the nose landing gear on a #C5M Super Galaxy air…
Unleashing the innovative spirit of Airmen > Travis Air Force Base > Display https://t.co/BXH9JaLxeE https://t.co/Qyug4MzrIN
RT @usairforce: Innovative ideas like this drive down costs and lead to improved readiness! The #DoverAFB Rapid Sustainment Office recentl…
MOC essential to mission success > Travis Air Force Base > Display https://t.co/p0bYJVOhm1 https://t.co/fu1ffkbgba
A #C5M Super Galaxy landed with its nose gear up at approx. 7:45 p.m., Jan. 31 @Travis60AMW. No injuries reported a… https://t.co/cF5YV90fr1
RT @usairforce: .@Travis60AMW teamed up w/ the @USArmy to deliver 4 UH-60 Black Hawks to #Alaska. Most often transported by #C17, these Bla…
This flying Twinkie™️ has a heck of a filling. Check out what it took to fit four UH-60 Black Hawks into one C-5M S… https://t.co/Bj9ipzW7AJ
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Across the globe, #Airmen are doing incredible work for our @USAirForce, the Joint Force & our Nation — Airmen of the…
RT @usairforce: #TotalForce #Airmen team up @ScottAFB with the goal of establishing the C-5M Super Galaxy as part of the universal qualific…
Want to learn how to code? We've teamed w/ @Career_Karma, @_8Heroes & @TwitterStripes to develop #Airmen and help… https://t.co/hGIUywiHZa
#TeamTravis, Per the 60th Civil Engineer Squadron, the scheduled power outage originally set for Dec. 16 is NOW CA… https://t.co/r9ogON6ClF
See what David Grant Medical Center is doing with @CSAF squadron innovation funds. Where technology and patient car… https://t.co/PMPns9viIp
RT @usairforce: Ever heard of a western-style equestrian competition called 'cutting?' Well one @Travis60AMW #Airman is fluent in the sport…
RT @usairforce: .@jointbasemdl Security Forces #militaryworkingdog handlers teamed up with local law enforcement and their K-9's for some t…
Travis chapel team best in Air Force https://t.co/cOlbnYxIei