Sunday, November 27, 2011

Out Spotlight

In 1992, today’s spotlight became the highest-ranking military officer discharged on the basis of sexual orientation. Dismissed after disclosing she was a lesbian during a routine security clearance interview, she challenged the U.S. military’s ban on homosexuals in federal court. In 1994, she was reinstated as chief nurse, making her one of the few openly gay or lesbian members of the military. Today she continues to serve as speaker, author and an advocate. Today’s Out Spotlight is Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer.

Margarethe Cammermeyer was born in Oslo, Norway, March 24, 1943, during the Nazi occupation. Her parents worked with and sheltered Norwegian resistance forces. Her mother would conceal guns and rifles under the mattress of her baby carriage along the streets of Oslo, meeting in an alley to meet the resistance who would jump out of a doorways to get them. As soon as she could read, her heroes were those resistance forces and her parents who stood up to "the bad guys" and were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the freedom they believed in. Cammermeyer credits her parents’ courage as her inspiration for defending civil liberties.

Her father was the first Norwegian recipient of the Rockefeller Fellowship in 1946 which enabled the family to spend nine months in Boston, Massachusetts. They returned to Norway after the fellowship, then ultimately immigrated to the United States in 1951 settling in the Washington DC area.

Cammermeyer became a citizen in 1961 and joined the U.S. Army Student Nurse Program. After receiving her B.S. in nursing from the University of Maryland in 1963, she reported for active duty. Lt. Cammermeyer’s first active duty assignment was basic training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, then on to six months at Martin Army Hospital at Ft. Benning Georgia. She then shipped out to Nuremberg, Germany, where she met and married a fellow soldier.

After Germany, Cammermeyer and her husband were sent to Ft. Lee, Virginia, during the buildup for Vietnam. At her request, in 1967 she was deployed to the 24th Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh, Vietnam for a 14 month tour. Six months as head nurse of a medical unit and then eight months as head nurse of the neurosurgical intensive care unit. She refers to this time in her life “the most extraordinary experience any military nurse could have been a part of.” She was honored with the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. She was honored with the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service.

After Vietnam she and her husband settled in Seattle, Washington where was she forced to leave the military when she became pregnant with the first of their four sons in 1968, because women were not permitted to have dependents. In 1972, that regulation was changed and she returned to the military service in the Army Reserves, ultimately achieving the rank of Colonel in 1987.

Her time working with neurologically impaired patients in Vietnam lead to that being the specialization of the rest of her clinical and research nursing career. While raising her family, she continued her education, earning a Master of Arts degree from the University of Washington in 1976.

In 1981 after her divorce from her husband of 15 years, she transferred to the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in San Francisco, California serving as the neuro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist for the next five years. From her work there Cammermeyer was the first recipient of the Administrator's Award for Excellence in Nursing in 1985, out of 34,000 registered nurses in the VA system.

She returned to Washington state in 1987 and to American Lake VAMC, in Tacoma where she was the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Neuroscience and Sleep Research for ten years. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1991 and focused the last years of my clinical practice on the diagnosis and care of patients with sleep apnea.

In 1992, she became the highest-ranking military officer discharged on the basis of sexual orientation. She was dismissed after disclosing she was a lesbian during a routine security clearance interview for promotion. She took her dismissal to court and challenged the U.S. military’s ban on homosexuals in federal court. In 1994, she was reinstated as chief nurse, making her one of the few openly gay or lesbian members of the military serving. She retired in 1997 after 31 years of service.

In 1989, she met her life partner, Diane Divelbess, an artist and art professor. In March 2004, they were married by a judge in Portland, Oregon, after having being together for 15 years. She said “It was one of the most exciting experiences, it really made us feel different, like others after having been together for 15 years.” They were devastated at the Supreme Court of Oregon’s decision that same sex marriages done at that time were ruled to have "never taken place". On July 23, 2007, they registered as Domestic Partners in the State of Washington. They still have their marriage certificate on their wall. They still have the memory of their family, friends and grandchildren at their Episcopalian wedding and blessing, and they are building on those moments and are saying “one step at a time” till they can be legally recognized as married.

Cammermeyer’s autobiography, “Serving in Silence” published in 1994, received critical acclaim. The book was turned into a made-for-TV movie, executive produced by Barbra Streisand and starred Glenn Close. The film generated more than 25 million viewers and received three Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award. It was one of the first television movies about a gay person.

After retirement, Cammermeyer ran for the United States Congress in Washington's 2nd congressional district in 1998. She won the Democratic primary, but lost in the general election to Republican incumbent Jack Metcalf.

From November 1999 through December 2001, she hosted her own daily internet radio talk show. The discussions were about relevant political, human rights, legal, health care, gay/lesbian/transgender and other issues. Cammermeyer also got very involved in local politics and ultimately spent six years as the Chairperson of the local Democratic Party.

Still wanting to practice her life’s career of nursing and neurosciences in January 2006 she opened an Adult Family Home to provided skilled care to sick and ailing elderly patients. She was also elected as a Whidbey General Hospital Commissioner.

She serves on the Military Advisory Council for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and was an outspoken advocate for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

In June 2010, she was appointed to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, a committee which is appointed by the United States Secretary of Defense and which reports to the United States Department of Defense.

Along with her other honors, Cammermeyer was named Woman of Power by the National Organization of Women and was awarded the Hannah Solomon Award by the Jewish Women's League and selected as the 1995 Distinguished Alumna from the University of Washington School of Nursing. This past year, The Point Foundation honored Cammermeyer with its Point Legend Award.

Today Colonel (Ret.)Cammermeyer and Divelbess are actively living in Washington and are grandparents to 10 grandchildren.

"I wear my uniform at every inappropriate moment to remind people of gays and lesbians who have to serve in silence in the military."


Special K said...

Jake out at the 169 Bar in the Lower East Side?

sashita_bonita Sashita
Jake Gyllenhall @ 169 and Frank Ocean tonight! Sunday I don't hate itttttttttt
1 hour ago

BJPsez Barbara

@sashita_bonita How Cool!!! Is he out on a date? Do tell! LOL!
27 minutes ago

in reply to ↑

@sashita_bonita Sashita
@BJPsez hah no date, just having drinks. Super handsome and low key!
12 minutes ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

169 Bar

destiny said...

I always like stories about people who managed to beat the system.

And I love this song, my favorite Supremes' song.

prairiegirl said...

Man, what a showing the Chiefs are putting on the Sunday night game against the Steelers. I am glad I'm not standing out in 30+ degree weather watching interception after interception.

When my brother was up here for Tgiving, he stayed here at the apartment and we 3 spent more time on our computers, lol. He's a Mac guy as is my sister and I'm a PC. But I have an IPad now, my latest new electronic toy, and so he got us all set up so that we can do Facetalk or whatever you call it. Anyway, he calls my IPad from his laptop and it rings like a phone. And when I hit "Answer", we can see each other as we talk.

So on Friday night he had the kids call my IPad and we all chatted. We got to see Reeces the dog and my niece showed us her newly re-arranged bedroom, etc. We showed them our newly completed Christmas tree. I mean, it's as close as you can get without being in the same room; it is really cool.

And I could see how this could possibly have been a way for Austin to keep in touch with the kids while he was filming. No, it's certainly not the same as being there, but wow, it really does help to be able to see the person you're talking to.

Special K said...

Destiny, it is a great song. One reason I played it because it reminded me of the show China Beach which was about the nurses serving in Vietnam.

prairiegirl said...

I enjoyed the OutSpotlight today, too. I cannot imagine the horrors that she saw while she was serving in Vietnam in the medical units. What an incredible career and life.

And 10 grandchildren? Wow.

Boy. Austin's parents are liable to break the bank going Christmas shopping this year for all their grandkids, aren't they? LOLLLL!!! I mean, damn. What size table do they need for everyone? They may have to use two card tables. LOLLLL!! "We need how many high chairs and booster seats, son?"

Seaweed said...

Once again... we're treated to an inspirational and revealing Out Spotlight. Love my Austin Friday's, Two Wheel Tuesdays, but Sunday really is a "Special" day!

Had a great chat with my friend PG yesterday and finally managed to catch up with Tom earlier today. There's never a shortage of things to talk about, and whether we agree on all issues or not, it's always such a pleasure to connect.

Trust everyone has been enjoying their Thanksgiving Weekend.

destiny said...

China Beach, another favorite of mine, and yes, I can never hear this song without thinking of it.

Rake & Hoes said...

I like this song!

destiny said...

Funny how it feels so much colder when your team is losing. Luckily it was warm here today, around 60, and the Jets squeaked out a win over Buffalo in the last minute of the game.

And boy are the fans starting to get restless over their crappy playing this season, especially the quarterback Mark Sanchez. LOL, the guy in front of us had pinned a piece of paper with the word "Pick" (for draft pick) over the name Sanchez on his jersey. Now that is brutal.

the real m said...

Wow, what a full life todays out spotlight has had.

PG, glad to hear you have an iPad. I am addicted to mine. And yes, it makes keeping in touch so easy. My coworkers partner has been out of the country for almost 3 months and yet they are able to talk face to face every day. That makes it a lot easier to keep a relationship going despite long distances.

Special K said...

Maggie announces she is expecting.

Maggie Gyllenhaal had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving! Life & Style can exclusively reveal that the 33-year-old actress and her husband, Peter Sarsgaard, are expecting their second child together.

"Over Thanksgiving weekend, Maggie was telling friends that she's six months pregnant," a friend of the actress tells Life & Style. "Her bump is so big!"
Rumors about a pregnancy began when Maggie turned up at the Rome Film Festival premiere of her latest movie, Hysteria, on Oct. 28 with what appeared to be a little baby bump. While the actress hasn't publicly confirmed her second child, the friend tells Life & Style that Maggie is over the moon. "She's thrilled to be pregnant! She and Peter have wanted another child for a while," says the friend. "They're very happy that they'll have another baby in the house soon."

Maggie's little brother, Jake Gyllenhaal, is said to be ecstatic about the news, too! "Jake is so happy that she's pregnant again because he loves kids," says the friend. "Maggie's said that he's the best uncle and has done a lot of sweet things for her first child."

Maggie and Peter are already parents to 5-year-old daughter Ramona but haven't revealed the sex of their soon-to-be bundle of joy. Regardless, Maggie's very excited and couldn't wait to spill the news to her family and friends.

Though Maggie has been in a relationship with her actor hubby since 2002, the couple didn't marry until 2009, after the birth of their first child. The pair currently live in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Life & Style

Special K said...

Jake won't be just buying baby gifts but wedding gifts too.

Congratulations to Anne Hathaway on her engagement.
People Magazine

prairiegirl said...

Maggie's little brother, Jake Gyllenhaal

Little brother?! Are you kidding me? Why not just go ahead and call him Little Uncle Jakey in worldwide print, Life & Style?

LOL. Good grief. Little brother. They make him sound 10 years old.

But then maybe that's what the Gyllenhaal family and Jake's people want, right? Because if he's just Little Bro Jakey, he certainly isn't ready to be a Dad himself yet, is he, G-Fam?

The guy's only got more than four times more kids than the Saarsgaads, that's all.

**rolls eyes**

Methodical Muser said...

No kidding, PG. Little brother? The man will be 31 in less than a month.

Maybe they think by infantilizing Jacob, the fam will be able to keep him under the Gyllie Milli Vanilli code of silence, tap dancing and lip synching to the institutional power of Tinsel Town, while the guy continues to live a half-life in the closet.

Once again, Jake just looooooves children, but apparently not enough to have any. Oh, brother.