The guidelines, issued by Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones, said the service would use medical, legal and other resources to support its personnel who encounter such issues.
“We are closely following state laws and legislation to ensure we prepare for and mitigate the effects on our Airmen, guardians and their families,” Jones said, using “guardians” as the official shorthand for members of the Air Force. ‘U.S. Space Force. “Medical, legal and various aid resources are available for those in need.”
“The health, care and resilience of our personnel and their families is not only our top priority – it is critical to our ability to accomplish the mission,” she said, according to a press release.
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Jones is a San Antonio native and Air Force veteran who is gay and served in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era. Her post seemed at least in part a response to Governor Greg Abbott’s order this year asking the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents providing gender-affirming care to their transgender children.
Issued in February, Abbott’s directive cited an opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton that such care, which includes hormone therapy and has been sanctioned by the nation’s leading medical associations, constitutes child abuse.
Before the Third Court of Appeals temporarily barred the state on March 22 from enforcing the policy until the lawsuits against it were resolved, Texas Child Protective Services had been investigating at least nine families.
A Pentagon-based Air Force spokeswoman, Ann Stefanek, noted Wednesday that there were no instances in which her troops had come under state scrutiny.
“We’re not tracking any yet, but we wanted to remind them that there are existing programs in case they need them,” she said in an email. “Again, this was an attempt to remind them to seek help if they were having trouble.”
The Air Force, in a statement released March 24, noted that “various laws and legislation are being proposed and passed in states across the Americas that may affect Airmen, guardians, and/or their LGBTQ dependents. in different ways”.
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If service members or their families need help “with screening, treatment, or mental health support for medical issues, they should start with (Air Force) medical facilities,” the official said. communicated.
Jones said troops could use the Exceptional Family Members Program to help with medical, legal and educational support for dependents as they move to new jobs and bases.
“As is the case with all members of our family, if the support a family member needs becomes unavailable, commanders can work to bring the service member to a mission where their loved ones can receive the care that they need. they need,” she said.
Base legal offices are another source of assistance in navigating new and existing state laws, the Air Force statement said, adding, “While installation legal staff cannot represent airmen, guardians or their families in court, they can provide vital guidance and counsel.”
Personnel can request additional support through their local Airman and Family Readiness Center, the Military and Family Life Counseling Program, or Military OneSource, which can be contacted 24/7 at (800) 342. -9647.
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Jones was twice defeated as the Democratic candidate for the United States House seat representing Texas’ 23rd congressional district. In close races, she failed to unseat Republican incumbent Will Hurd in 2018 and lost to GOP nominee Tony Gonzales in 2020.
Last year, President Joe Biden named her the No. 2 civilian overseeing the Air Force.
She had been deployed to Iraq in 2005 as an intelligence officer with the 18th Air Support Operations Group, supporting close air support missions, and after leaving the Air Force she advised the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade in the US Army South. Jones joined the Defense Intelligence Agency as a member of US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, before eventually running for Congress.
Jones has gone public with the hardships she faced as an airman during the long-running compromise that changed an outright ban on gay troops but still saw thousands kicked out of the armed forces.
“I served in the Air Force and in Iraq under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Jones tweeted after the Supreme Court ruled two years ago that LGBTQ people were protected from violence. discrimination at work. “I know what it’s like to be discriminated against in the workplace.”
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