Newly pinned Brigadier General becomes first openly gay flag officer in U.S. military

Newly pinned Brigadier General becomes first openly gay flag officer in U.S. military

ARLINGTON, Va. — Former Army Colonel Tammy Smith has become the first openly gay flag officer to come out while currently serving in the U.S. military.

Smith was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in a private ceremony on Friday at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Smith received her stars from her wife, Tracey Hepner.

Tammy Smith (right), with her spouse Tracey Hepner.

“For years, gay and lesbian generals and admirals were forced to hide their families in order to protect their careers. It is a great day for our military and for our nation when this courageous leader is finally able to recognize her wife for her support and sacrifice in the same way that all military families should be recognized for their service to our country,” said Sue Fulton, a West Point graduate and member of the OutServe Board of Directors.

Aubrey Sarvis, an Army Veteran and Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, praised Smith’s leadership and encouraged others would follow her lead.

“It is indeed a new era in America’s military when our most accomplished leaders are able to recognize who they are and serve the country they love at the same time. Brigadier General Smith made history today – not only as an exemplary service member who renders outstanding service to our nation with integrity and honor – but as a proud lesbian acknowledging the tremendous sacrifice her family makes in order for her to serve and advance,” said Savis.

“This day was long overdue, but I have no doubt more senior enlisted and officers will follow BG Smith in stepping forward smartly with their spouses and loved ones,” he said.

Smith is assigned as deputy chief in the Army Reserve Office of the Chief in Washington, D.C.

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