( WASHINGTON ) October 11, 2017 OutServe-SLDN, the nation's leading legal and advocacy organization for LGBT servicemembers, veterans, and their families, and the Military Partners and Families Coalition ( MPFC ), an advocacy and outreach organization for LGBT military families, are pleased to announce that they are joining forces. The existing operations of MPFC will be incorporated into OutServe-SLDN, creating the nation's largest organization focused on the support of the LGBT military community including service members, veterans and military families.
Matt Thorn, Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN, has said of the merger, "We are thrilled to welcome the Military Partners and Families Coalition into OutServe-SLDN. Over the years they've been an invaluable partner to our work, and we're thrilled that they're now part of our family."
Ariana Bostian-Kentes, President and co-founder of MPFC, added, "Working alongside OutServe-SLDN as a coalition partner has been vital to the successes we've celebrated as a military family community. We aim to build on that success through this merger by adding to the breadth of resources available to those who serve and support our military and by prioritizing the interests of all families who serve our country."
Current programs of the MPFC will continue uninterrupted as part of OutServe-SLDN. These programs include Faces of Our Families, a monthly profile of LGBT military families; Ally Spotlight, a regular profile of non-LGBT spouses who have shown leadership in advancing equality for all military families; Health Advocacy Program, a focus on the delivery of health care to LGBT service members and their families; Battle Buddy Program, a support network for partners and families of deployed service members; the Online Education Program, a series of virtual training sessions on issues of pertinence to LGBT military families; and the Cultural Competency Program, direct training to inform existing military culture about LGBT families.
MPFC was formed in 2011 by military partners and family members who facilitated implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell as participants in the Pentagon's Comprehensive Review Working Group. Since that time, MPFC has grown to encompass more than 1,300 members and held numerous events around the country.
Service Members Legal Defense Network ( SLDN ) was founded in 1993 in direct response to the policy of Don't Ask Don't Tell ( DADT ) and has offered direct legal services to LGBT members of the armed forces, reservists, and veterans. OutServe was formed in 2006 as support group and advocacy organization for active duty service members serving under DADT, joining SLDN in 2012. The merger with MPFC furthers the mission of OutServe SLDN to provide a comprehensive range of support services, advocacy, and legal assistance for more than half million LGBT service members, veterans and their families.
Matt Thorn will continue in his role and become President & CEO of the combined organizations. Ariana Bostian-Kentes and MPFC Vice President, Tracey Hepner, will join the board of directors and the current 13 member OutServe-SLDN board will continue in their respective roles.
"We've learned from experience that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Adding the work of MPFC and its team of leaders to OutServe-SLDN is a huge win for the families of LGBT service members and veterans," Thorn indicated.
Adding to Thorn's comments, Bostian-Kentes said, "In the face of so many new challenges, our work is more important than ever. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and leverage our collective power to make the country we love more inclusive and equitable for everyone."
Merging the operations of the two organizations will occur over the coming months, and is expected to be completed by December 15, 2017. The combined organization will continue use of the name OutServe-SLDN as the board of director's undertake a review of the organization's name, brand and website to ensure we are best representative of the LGBT military community.