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    Retired Sailor Expresses Pride in Self and Service

    Retired Sailor Expresses Pride in Self and Service

    Photo By Chief Petty Officer Gretchen Albrecht | Extending a helping hand in friendship, back in the day...organizational efforts by...... read more read more

    BREMERTON, WA, UNITED STATES

    06.26.2020

    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Meagan Christoph 

    Naval Hospital Bremerton

    “We got married,” reminisced retired Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Shaun Aragon. “I came home one day and pulled an envelope out of the mailbox that said the Office of the White House.”

    Aragon, previously assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB), explained that he was a little suspicious of it. He thought it may have anthrax in it because the envelope was thick. He took it to the kitchen sink and opened it over it in case there was something malicious inside.

    “I didn't know what it was. I opened it up and I couldn't believe it,” said Aragon. “I couldn't believe what it was.”

    Aragon said that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had sent him and his husband, Jose Luis Kugerperez, a card congratulating them on their marriage.

    Aragon married his husband shortly after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) Repeal Act” was completed in 2011.

    The repeal ended the DADT policy that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Under the policy, gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans could serve their country, as long as they kept their sexual identity under wraps.

    Aragon described his excitement when he brought the card to work and showed it to Chief Hospital Corpsman Danny Williams, assigned to NMRTC Bremerton. Williams met Aragon four years ago after Aragon checked in to the command.

    “[Aragon] is strong headed, strong-willed, and not afraid to say what’s right or wrong,” said Williams. “But he is also humble enough to admit when he is wrong.”

    “You're not going to always be met with people who are favorable about you, but that's okay. Because at least now I have the position to know I have the same rights as anybody else,” said Aragon. “I might not always have had them, but I'll be damned if somebody is going to put me in a different category.”

    In 2016 Aragon started the process to host the command’s first pride event. Prior to drafting an outline of the event, Aragon met with Williams and pitched the idea to him.

    “I think that for him to do the first official pride - it was one of the things that was kind of uncharted territory,” said Williams. “Because in the recent years there's been a lot of change. DADT policies have changed many people's lives across the board. He took that and wanted to make an impact and I think that was his impact, creating the first [pride event].”

    To promote the event, Aragon reached out to Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Neff, also assigned to NHB, for a helping hand.

    “I was working up in Staff Education with Shaun Aragon and he was telling me about all the things he wanted to do to start the pride month event,” said Neff. “We all were supportive of him. I said let me know how to help.”

    Neff explained that Aragon wanted to create a poster with people’s hands next to each other.

    “I was more than happy to help because he's a very good friend of mine and I've always supported,” said Neff. “When the poster came out it just showed the unity and it was a really neat thing.”

    The first pride event at NHB was held in 2016. The event included a 5K fun run, rainbow cupcakes on the quarterdeck, guest speakers, and posters about the history of LGBTQ persons in the military.

    One of the main things that Aragon described he wanted to accomplish through the first pride event was to de-stigmatize people’s notions about what the community looks like. He explained that some people fall into a stereotype and some people do not.

    “Challenge yourself, “said Aragon. “Don't stay in one comfortable bubble. I don't like comfortable bubbles, because it creates xenophobia. It creates ignorance and it makes you segregate yourself. I think that's my biggest takeaway from the military is the family I made and that they're all different.”

    Aragon mentioned his parents attending his retirement ceremony in 2019.

    He said that his father commented on how different the Sailors were saying, “it's really amazing to see this family that you've created because they're from all different countries - all different walks of life - you would never see that where I come from.”

    “It's the same in the military,” said Aragon. “If you stick with a certain category, you're always going to only have a few perceptions. And that's what I love about us. You're forced to be uncomfortable. I'd say that's my biggest takeaway.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.26.2020
    Date Posted: 06.29.2020 16:25
    Story ID: 373048
    Location: BREMERTON, WA, US 

    Web Views: 361
    Downloads: 0
    Podcast Hits: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN