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Laila Ireland

Branch: Air-Force

Duty Station: Peterson-AFB

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 3

About the nominee: I am a retired Army veteran, transwoman, activist, advocate and artist stationed with my husband at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs. Colorado. I have been a part of the military community all my life. I grew up in a military family as my father was in the Army. So the lifestyle comes quite easy. I served as a combat medic in the Army for nearly 13 years, so taking care of and aiding people comes natural for me. My career choice was heavily influenced by my mother who was also a nurse at the local hospital at home. My activism began in 2012 through inclusivity training with Outserve Trans and SPART*A where I talked about the intersections of being transgender, female, and a person of color, all while actively serving in the military. Then in June 2015, I was fortunate enough to publicly come out as transgender to the world while being in the military when New York Times released a short documentary called “Transgender, at war and in love” which featured my husband and I, to highlight the struggles as a dual military transgender couple to help push for open transgender service. Since then my life experience has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve been able to connect with so many people and organizations to share my journey as society, in and out of the military, pushes forward for absolute diversity and inclusivity. My career in the military ended abruptly and I medically retired from the military in December of 2015. In May 2016, I was awarded the Military Spouse Leadership award by the American Military Partner Association for my work in advocacy and activism. My journey and my work here is far from over. But I look forward to everyday with the hope that if i can make a difference in just one person’s life, I have fulfilled my purpose in life. Planting a seed of love and life, and watching it grow in the rest of the world, wherever I may be.

Hobbies: Cooking, interior decorating, volunteering helping youth

Interesting Facts: My husband and I were featured in New York Times Opinion Documentary, "Transgender, at war and in love" which highlighted the struggles as a dual military transgender couple to help push for open transgender service.

What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? You learn to turn friends into family along this new journey as a spouse and you learn from others experiences and shape your military and family life that works and fits for you. I also learned that I am capable of doing things that I would usually have my husband do. Then again, keeping myself preoccupied with my own schedule, routing, and projects helps alleviate the stress when he is gone time to time. I've learned to be more attentive and aware to the issues that surround not just the military but our society and how we are all affected by it. Lastly, being a military spouse has broken me down and built me up to be stronger than I ever believed I ever was. Throwing me into situations I never thought I'd be in or had to deal with. Allowing me to utilize my military training and applying that to my everyday life as a spouse.

In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? One of the most important issues facing military families is that of finding a happy medium when relocating or having to relocate. Uprooting ones life unexpectedly is always taxing. It's emotionally, physically, and mentally difficult for families to endure but the understanding of why they do it is always constant.

What is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? Being in a military family molds discipline and helps shape a life that builds a solid foundation for the future. It also allows you to learn about different cultures and people. Being able to turn friends into family and to have a large network wherever you go.

What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? I want to bring awareness and to help educate other families of the opportunities that can form when being diverse and inclusive to all cultures. Also to be able to impact families to get back to its roots of spending quality time with one another, whether at home or abroad or even when their service members are deployed.

Reasons for nominating:

Laila Ireland is a transgender advocate stationed with her husband at Peterson AFB. She medically retired from the Army in December of 2015. Earlier that year, she publicly came out as transgender to the world while being in the military when the New York Times released a short documentary called “Transgender, at War and in Love”. The documentary featured her and her husband Logan, which highlighted the struggles as a dual military transgender couple to help push for open transgender service in the military. Her advocacy work now involves speaking to schools and businesses to help carve out safe spaces for trans youth and adults, getting accessible healthcare for trans people, and training staff and students in both work places and in schools. She currently serves as the Membership Director to SPART*A Trans - an organization established and operated by transgender military members which provides transgender military personnel with guidance to navigate the new policy and its implementation. She is also a board member for Point of Pride, a non-profit organization which works to benefit trans people all over the world in need through gender-confirming support programs that empower them to live more authentically. In May 2016, she was award the Military Spouse Leadership award by the American Military Partner Association. -- Ashley Broadway-Mack, Military-Spouse

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