American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) is the oldest and largest member-based LGBT Veterans Service Organization in the United States, fighting for the right and duty of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender military service for 25 years.

Every year AVER chooses to honor distinguished members of the LGBT military community, both service members and civilians, active duty and veteran, gay and straight, with Life Membership in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the right of LGBT people to serve with dignity and pride in the United States Armed Forces and to receive full military and veteran benefits for our families. Past recipients of AVER Life Membership include Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, President Barack Obama, Admiral Mike Mullen, and the late Dr. Frank Kameny.

This year AVER has chosen to honor six exceptional patriots for their commitment and service both to the LGBT community and the very highest ideals of our nation’s freedom, integrity, and service. We are especially pleased that this year’s list of recipients includes the first legally married same-sex couples to be so honored. The Board of Directors of American Veterans for Equal Rights is extremely proud to present the 2014 recipients of Life Membership.

Julie Roth

LT Julie Roth (USN)

Lieutenant Julie Roth, United States Navy, Retired, had a very successful and lauded Navy career spanning 22 years. A Meteorologist/Oceanographer, she was stationed in Tactical Meteorology and Oceanography facilities on operational air bases, missile sites, and polar ice reconnaissance and taught at the Navy’s Aerographer’s Schools. LT Roth was stationed in Antarctica as part of the US National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Research Program. She is one of the first women to be sent to perform such duty. Subsequently, she returned to Antarctica each year, for 6 months at a time, for the next 6 years. LT Roth was also among the first women in the Navy to achieve aircrew status. She was part of a P-3 Orion aircrew performing ice reconnaissance and Soviet sub-detection duties during the Cold War, flying many sorties in the Arctic Circle. Her last assignment for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) involved traveling around the world to assess the Navy’s fleet requirements and work with contractors to develop tactical meteorological and oceanographic computer systems. LT Roth has been in a committed relationship with (now) Major General Patricia Rose (USAF) for 25 years. The officers met while serving on active duty and have worked around career commitments and service obligations to remain together. The two were married one year ago when Washington State passed Marriage equality.


MG Patricia Rose (USAF)

Major General Patricia A. “Trish” Rose, United States Air Force Reserve, is the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. General Rose entered the Air Force through Officer Training School in 1984. A logistician, she has served assignments in both aircraft maintenance and transportation in seven different commands. General Rose’s assignments include command of the 36th Aerial Port Squadron at McChord AFB, WA, where her squadron won the dual distinction of being selected for an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and Air Mobility Command’s Total Force Air Reserve Component Aerial Port Unit of the Year. The general also served as Chief, Logistics Resources Branch, Directorate of Logistics, Headquarters 4th Air Force; Senior Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Director, Global Channel Operations, Tanker Airlift Control Center, and Mobilization Assistant to the Director of Logistics at AFMC. She served as Mission Director for the U.S. Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center in Southwest Asia where she directed joint logistics for operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In her civilian capacity she is the public relations and marketing director for a local hospital. General Rose is the highest ranking out officer in the United States military. Her first set of stars as a Brigadier General were pinned on in her own living room by her partner Lt. Julie Roth and Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer. General Rose will deliver the keynote address at the Pride Month Observance at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, which adjoins the towns of Bedford, Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord – “the birthplace of America.”

“It is a great satisfaction to be an authentic leader and not have to hide anything.” 

— MG Patricia Rose


LT Julie Roth pins the second set of stars to her wife MG Patricia Rose. General Janet Wolfenbarger stands left.

“I was in the Army from 83 to 86 and what we went through between the aids epidemic just hitting and being gay it was the worst 3 years of my life. All I did was hide and watch good friends and soldiers escorted out of barracks in the middle of the night because they were caught loving another of the same sex. I lived scared and hidden in the hope of the world changing someday. Thank you Trish Rose for your courage and for being strong in who you are…again I’m proud to know you. will be delivering the keynote address at the Pride Month Observance at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, which adjoins the towns of Bedford, Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington — “the birthplace of America.”will be delivering the keynote address at the Pride Month Observance at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, which adjoins the towns of Bedford, Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington — “the birthplace of America.”will be delivering the keynote address at the Pride Month Observance at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, which adjoins the towns of Bedford, Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington — “the birthplace of America.”

– Donna Marie Dias, US Army, 1983 – 1986, friend of MG “Trish” Rose

Trish and Julie 

Trish Rose and Julie Roth share their DOD Spouse id card.


BG Tammy Smith (USA)

US Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith became the first openly LGBT flag officer in the United States military in August, 2012, when her wife Tracey Hepner pinned a silver star on her shoulder. This promotion occurred less than 1-year after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. An Oregon native, BG Smith was commissioned in 1986 as an Army Second Lieutenant, graduating from the University of Oregon Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. She was selected for Brigadier General having served in the Army for 26 years, including duty in Afghanistan, Panama, Costa Rica, the Pentagon, and numerous other posts. Her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit medal, Bronze Star medal, Combat Action Badge, Senior Parachutist wings and Rigger wings. She holds a Doctor of Management degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Her doctoral research focus was “executive leadership and senior leader transitions into new organizations.” She is also an Army War College graduate. She has been featured in the Oregon Quarterly magazine and More magazine’s 2013 Fierce List, which included 50 women who made brave stands. She and Hepner were also featured together in Out magazine’s 2013 Love Issue. Smith and Hepner were married in Washington, DC, in March, 2012.

“Leadership is about being a role model. I don’t think I’m a role model because I’m gay. I believe I’m a role model because I adhere to Army values by being true to my authentic self.” 

– BG Tammy Smith


Tracey Hepner

Tracey Hepner is the co-founder and Operations Director of the Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), one of the most prominent organizations in the US providing “support, education, resources, and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and similarly-identified (LGBT) military families.” Hepner was invited to sit with First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2013 State of the Union Address in recognition of her tireless work in support of LGBT military families. She is also founder of Rainbow Ribbon and the Rainbow Ribbon Project, organizations dedicated to raising visibility of LGBT military families prior to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That involvement led her to testify to the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group on behalf of LGBT military families, informing the study that eventually led to the repeal of DADT. Hepner works for the Department of Homeland Security as a Master Behavior Detection Officer. She is the recipient of the 2013 Department of Homeland Security Pride Award for Service.

Tammy and Tracey

Tracey Hepner and BG Tammy Smith.

First day card

BG Tammy Smith and MPFC co-founder Tracey Hepner exchange their DOD Spouse id card.


SSGT Eric Alva (USMC)

Staff Sergeant Eric Alva was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, when the unit crossed from Kuwait into Iraq for the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 21, 2003. Three hours into the ground war, Alva triggered a landmine and lost his right leg. He became the first American casualty of the war, and was the war’s first Purple Heart recipient. Retiring from the military after 13 years of service and extensive surgeries and rehabilitation therapy, Alva returned to college where he decided to be true to himself and help others, coming out as gay. On February 28, 2007, he joined Congressman Martin Meehan in introducing the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill designed to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, which denied lesbian, gay, and bisexual people the right to serve openly in the United States military. With this step, Eric Alva became one of the most compelling and inspirational champions of the effort to repeal DADT, speaking out as a gay Marine who had served proudly and sacrificed for his country. He later testified before the House Armed Service Subcommittee and stood alongside President Barack Obama as the president signed the legislation to implement the repeal of DADT on December 22nd, 2010. Alva served as a national spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign and has been featured on Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360, and in Newsweek, USA Today, as well as numerous other media across the country including the cover of The Advocate. Among the various awards he has received are the 2004 Hero’s Among Us award from People Magazine and the 2008 Public Citizen Award from the National Association of Social Workers. He is the recipient of AVER’s 2013 Leonard Matlovich Distinguished Service Medal. Staff Sergeant Alva’s partner, Danny Ingram, was among the first service members discharged under DADT and is a Past President of AVER. The two met in Washington, DC, while lobbying for the repeal of DADT.

Allyson Robinson

Allyson Robinson (USA)

A nationally respected, award winning social entrepreneur and movement strategist, Allyson Robinson has built a career advising and leading organizations on the vanguard of social change. As executive director of OutServe – Service Members Legal Defense Network, she was the first transgender person to lead a national LGBT advocacy organization. In that role, she conceived and coordinated the public vetting of Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel on LGBT issues, getting him to make a decisive, written commitment to equality prior to his confirmation. Previously, she led internal and external diversity initiatives at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, and was the first openly transgender woman to serve on HRC’s staff. A native of Scranton, PA, Robinson is a 1994 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she majored in physics. After an internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, she was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army and commanded PATRIOT missile units in Europe and the Middle East. She also served as a senior trainer-evaluator for NATO and as an adviser to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. She resigned her commission in 1999 to pursue a calling to Christian ministry, serving as pastor-teacher to churches in the Portuguese Azores and central Texas. She earned a master of divinity degree in theology, with a capstone emphasis in social justice, from Baylor University in 2007. Today she is principal of Warrior Poet Strategies, the Washington, D.C. based consulting firm she founded in 2013, which advises select clients in organizational design, diversity and inclusion, and social and civic entrepreneurship. She also writes and speaks nationally and is the author of a forthcoming book on the future of the LGBT movement.She lives with her wife Danyelle – a West Point classmate of hers – and their four children in Gaithersburg, MD.

Allyson family

Allyson Robinson with her wife and 4 children at Locust Grove Nature Center in Bethesda, MD.