Rockland honors Pearl River woman with 1st Veteran Pride Award

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PEARL RIVER -

June is Pride Month, and Rockland County is recognizing LGBT veterans who have helped serve their country and community.

The county handed out its first Veteran Pride Award, which is given to a former LGBT service member who continues to serve his or her community.

Damaris Trinidad, of Pearl River, received the award. She entered the Navy in 1986 and served in Guantanamo Bay, also working for a military program that helps personnel prevent and overcome substance abuse.

She continues to serve vets by volunteering for a local program that provides peer-to-peer counseling.

Trinidad was also presented with a certificate of recognition from the Clarkstown supervisor and a proclamation from state Sen. David Carlucci acknowledging her service to other veterans

County officials say they created the annual award after hearing countless stories from LGBT vets about the discrimination and terror they faced while serving.

There are currently 13,000 LGBT personnel on active duty and 58,000 LGB are part of the National Guard and Reserve. There's no "T" in that acronym as President Trump has now banned transgender people from entering the National Guard.

Trinidad says the idea eats away at the very freedom she and other veterans fought to defend.

"If you don't have the means or money for school, if you don't have the means or money for politics, if you don't have other ways, how else can you serve your country but the military?" she asks.

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