By Audrey Jensen
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — When she first joined the military in 2005, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, an official U.S. military policy that allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military if they didn’t declare their sexual orientation, was still in effect.
Since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed by the Obama Administration in 2011, service members like Master Sgt. Sarah Wolf, 561st Network Operations Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge, don’t have to be worried when talking about their partner.
“It was interesting to go from never being able to talk about your significant other, when you coworkers would ask, ‘Oh who are you going to lunch with? Why isn’t this gentleman coming to the door to get you?’ to what it is now,” Sarah said.
Sarah met her wife, Amy Wolf, while working as the point of contact for Pacific Air Force/A2 at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii in 2013. When she was in the Air Force, Amy worked as the desk sergeant for security forces and had to communicate with Sarah whenever maintenance was needed on an alarm.
“I would talk to her on the phone and then it developed from there,” Sarah said. “We would just talk and joke and eventually we became friends and started meeting up outside of work.”
When Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was first repealed, Sarah said she was still hesitant to bring Amy up in conversation.
“At first, it was very awkward to bring Amy up when we were dating,” Sarah said. “But I was very surprised that once I came out to my work center, they said, ‘That’s awesome, bring her around more to our squadron events and have her come to our functions.’ They were very inclusive of her.”
After Sarah and Amy married in 2016, Amy had retired from the Air Force and Sarah was moved to a new squadron, where everyone was also welcoming to Sarah and her wife.
“I’m not afraid to say that I’m married to a woman,” Sarah said. “I bring my wife to all of our events and I talk about her a lot, so it’s very cool to see the inclusion. I’ve never felt judged, I’ve never felt excluded from the group because I was gay.”
June is LGBT Pride Month, which helps raise awareness of the LGBT community to people who may have not been exposed to it before, Sarah said.
“There are a lot of people who join the military, especially younger Airmen. If they’re from a more conservative part of the country, or if they lived overseas and then joined — maybe they’ve never been exposed to the LGBT community before.”
As a leader in her squadron, Sarah hopes to be a role model for other LGBT Airmen.
“It’s important for me — as someone who’s a little higher ranking in my squadron — to openly talk about my wife and bring her around,” Sarah said. “If my Airmen see that, they might say, ‘Oh I can be a high ranking person in the military with a spouse, too. Maybe I won’t have to be ashamed to bring my significant other around or feel weird about it.’”
Airmen shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves or be ashamed of who they are, Sarah said.
“If people are not going to accept you, that’s their problem,” Sarah said. “Have faith in the senior leaders within our squadrons, within our groups and wing, and just the Air Force in general — they are there for you, and they have your back.”
Sarah said she tells Airmen who may be discouraged that they will see more LGBT leaders in the Air Force over time, since Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed less than 10 years ago.
If anyone does feel discriminated against for their sexual orientation, Sarah said Airmen can speak with their leadership or go to the Equal Opportunity Office, which can be reached at 719-556-7693.
“There’s no reason why who I’m married to or who I choose to love should cause me to be treated any different than the person who is sitting next to me,” Sarah said.