Army Reserve Civil Affairs Officer Reflects on Service and Family During LGBTQ Month
Story by: Ms. Saska Ball, USACAPOC(A) PAO
FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – Throughout June, the military joins the nation in honoring the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. The month was chosen to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which marked a turning point for the gay liberation movement in the United States.
“It’s important to share my overall experience in the military during Pride Month so everyone can see that all types of people are serving our country,” said Capt. Shannon Woodman, chief of operations for the 443rd Battalion. of Civil Affairs located in Newport, Rhode Island.
Woodman served as both an enlisted soldier and a commissioned officer during the era of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and was taking the Basic Officer Leadership Course when the repeal was announced.
With the repeal, the military openly recognized the value of individual talent, background, and perspective in fulfilling its mission to include LGBTQ soldiers and their selfless service.
“I remember the company commander at my school making an announcement about the repeal,” Woodman recounted. “I told him afterwards that I appreciated the way he handled it. He kept checking on me during class and talking about how things were going.
The emotion she feels thinking about this moment can be summed up in one word: relief. Relief that she wouldn’t have to sidestep issues, tell half-truths, or alter who she was. She was free to serve her nation and be herself.
His ability to continue serving led to a chance discovery of his family’s connection to Newport and the military.
“When I found out I was going to be moving from Wisconsin to Rhode Island, my parents told me that my paternal grandmother had done a lot of genealogical research and had actually written a book called ‘The Woodman’s of Rhode Island’ “Once I found out my grandmother had written a book, I found a pdf version of the book to start looking at my family’s background,” Woodman said. The first John Woodman arrived in Newport, Rhode Island around 1655.”
She discovered that five men had served in the army – four in the Colonial War and one in the Revolutionary War; and that she was not the only Captain of the family. At least two were officers, Captain Edward Woodman and Captain Sylvester Woodman. The latter ran away from home to join the army and served for six years.
Woodman had the opportunity to share the experience with her fiancé, Stefi.
“Once she found out that my family was from the area and had been buried in local cemeteries, she was incredibly supportive and kind, and contacted the local historical society to see if they were doing tours or had any additional information about the Woodman family,” Woodman said. .
“Walking on the ground where Shannon’s ancestors lie was like traveling back in time to the beginning of where it all began, not just for her family, but also for this country,” Stefi said. “I felt honored to be able to walk the same ground as his ancestors first did 300 years ago.”
Visiting cemeteries and other ancestral sites, Woodman couldn’t help but reflect on how things had come full circle due to his continued military service.
“Knowing the connection to military service that was here from my family’s beginnings in this country makes me even prouder,” Woodman said. “Being in the exact place where my family first established its roots in this country is a wonderful, all-around connection to service and family.”
Woodman concluded with a final thought: “It’s always an honor and a privilege to put on this uniform and serve.”
|Date posted:||23.06.2022 14:03|
|Location:||FORT BRAGG, North Carolina, USA|
|Hometown:||NEWPORT, RI, USA|
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