Thursday, June 23, 2022 –
FORT BRAGG, N.C.— Throughout the month of June, the Army recognizes the dedication of service to country from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning service members and civilians within the DOD community. June is Pride Month in honor of the June 28, 1969, Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a pinnacle event for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
For one Civil Affairs Officer, being free to serve her country as her true self has allowed her to embody honor, dignity and respect for her fellow soldiers and her family history.
“It is important to share my overall experience in the Army during pride month so that everyone can see that all types of people serve our country,” said Capt. Shannon Woodman, chief of operations, with the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion located in Newport, Rhode Island.
Woodman served as both an enlisted Soldier and commissioned officer during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy era and was attending the Basic Officer Leadership Course when the repeal was announced.
The repeal brought significant policy changes to LGBTQ+ soldiers in that they would no longer be discharged from service based on sexual orientation or prohibited from joining in the first place, twelve years later, the Army continues to openly recognize the value added from LGBTQ+ Soldiers, their individual talents, backgrounds and perspectives in accomplishing its mission.
“I remember my schoolhouse company commander made an announcement regarding the repeal,” recounted Woodman. “I told him afterward that I appreciated how he handled it, he continued to check in on me during the course and talk about how things were going.”
The emotion she feels when thinking about that moment can be summed up in one word—relief. Relief that she would no longer have to avoid issues, tell half-truths or edit who she was. She was free to serve her Nation and be her true self.
Woodman’s relocation to Rhode Island from Wisconsin deepened her interest into her ancestral military ties.
She discovered that five relatives had also served in the military - four in the colonial war, and one in the revolutionary war; and that she wasn’t the only officer in the family. There were at least two others, Captain Edward Woodman and Captain Sylvester Woodman.
Woodman shared her history with her fiancée, Stefi.
“Once she [Stefi] found out that my family was from the area and were buried in local cemeteries- she was incredibly supportive and sweet, and contacted the local historical society to see if they did tours or had additional information on the Woodman family,” said Woodman.
While touring the cemeteries and other ancestral sites, Woodman couldn’t help but reflect on how things had come full circle because of her continued military service.
“Knowing the connection to military service that was here from my family's beginnings in this country makes me feel even more proud,” stated Woodman. “Ending up in the exact place my family first established roots in this country is a wonderful full circle connection to service and family.”
Woodman concluded with one final thought, “It is always an honor and a privilege to put on this uniform and serve.”