One morning in April of 2015, we had the honor of meeting Selamawit Chale for the first time. She came to our office, broken, hurting, and terrified, but at the same time, her inner strength was palpable. We learned that Selam was once a bright and hopeful young woman, anxious to make a difference in the world and to contribute to her communities; however, traumatic events in her childhood, followed by years of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband had silenced her.
Members of the U.S. military make significant sacrifices in order to serve their country. Yet, many dedicated U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are either prevented from serving in the military or their service is considerably limited because of who they love and who their family members are. Active service members are often stripped of their security clearances, unable to advance up the ranks, and threatened with discharge from service if they have undocumented spouses, parents, and children.