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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Excited to discuss this with you all next Wednesday!
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May 14

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Lindsey
Hi
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Lindsey
Hello Hillary
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Trish E King
Good afternoon everyone.
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Lindsey
Is this a test for tomorrow?
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May 15

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Andy Blevins
Excited to chat with everyone later this evening!
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Question from Mari
What time is the discussion?
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B Fram
Starts in 20 minutes.
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B Fram
Goodtalk message
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B Fram
Goodtalk message
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B Fram
Chat starts in five minutes with transgender service members and the executive director of MMAA!
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B Fram
Hello all! Thanks for joining us tonight. I'm Lieutenant Colonel B Fram. I'm a spouse, parent, Airman, rocket scientist, and I just happen to be trans. I've served over 16 years and came out as trans on the day the ban ended in 2016.
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B Fram
We'll be discussing what has happened over the last few years regarding transgender people serving in the military and the affect on service members, their families, and the wider LGBTQ community.
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B Fram
I'd like to start by asking each of our distinguished panelists to give a brief introduction before I open the discussion to questions.
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B Fram
Andy, lead us off!
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Trish E King
Good evening. My name is Patricia King. I recently retired after 20 years in service. I was the Army's first openly transgender Infantryman.
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Trish E King
Also, I'm not Andy :)
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Andy Blevins
Hey folks! My name is Andy Blevins, I am the Executive Director at Modern Military Association of America (MMAA, the nation's voice for the LGBTQ military and veteran community. Im a Navy veteran (crypto tech!) and proid spouse of a trans Army vet (Airborne medic!)
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B Fram
Alivia and Deirdre too!
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Alivia Stehlik
Hi! I’m Alivia Stehlik. Captain in the United States Army, currently serving as a physical therapist after 6 years as an Infantry Officer.
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Andy Blevins
Also...I apparently have fat fingers :/. Sorry for the typos!
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B Fram
I'll start asking questions to our panelists, but please do send in your questions.
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B Fram
To anyone who wants to answer: What went through your head when the president tweeted that being transgender was incompatible with military service?
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Sorry I'm late
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
I'm an Army Reserve JAG Corps officer and the only known openly serving trans JAG officer in the Army. One of only two in the Armed Forces. I currently serve as a Defense Counsel. My wife and I are mothers to five children. I am retiring next December with 30 years of service. As a civilian I serve as a senior IT auditor at Army Cyber Command at Fort Meade.
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Trish E King
I felt like I had been fired via tweet.
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Trish E King
I was worried about how I and thousands of others would no longer be able to serve.
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Alivia Stehlik
I honestly didn’t even know it had happened - several of my patients just came in that morning and said that no matter what anyone else said, they wanted me as their therapist.
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
I had just submitted my transition packet to the Army Reserve and I was kind of overwhelmed by the idea that I had just ended my own career.
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Andy Blevins
I was angry. As a cis man that was investigated under DADT, I felt like our community was under attack once again. And I knew, then, that I was going to do everything I could to make sure nobody was left behind this time around.
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Alivia Stehlik
When I finally figured out what had happened, I kept wondering how it worked that the healthcare I provided to so many other Soldiers somehow didn’t apply to me...just because of who I was. It didn’t seem right.
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B Fram
How did you find support on that day?
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B Fram
What did your fellow service members say?
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Trish E King
I found support in my peers at work. All of whom told me that they didn't agree with this and believed we belong in uniform.
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Alivia Stehlik
People stopped by my office all day to say they were proud of me for being myself, and that I was an excellent therapist and officer who they wanted in their Army
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Avatar for Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Deirdre Anne Hendrick
I was in the Individual Ready Reserve at the time so I didnthave a unit. I was in the process of trying to get one. When I did get in touch with some units the first was concerned about the administrative headache but the second saw me as an asset. My job is to represent soldiers who are being separated from the Army.
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B Fram
Arguments for the ban generally say that having transgender service members hurts unit morale and cohesion, costs too much, and hurts readiness. How do you combat these arguments?
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
I hot a lot of support from civilian coworkers
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Trish E King
I have never experienced that. If anything I think my authenticity inspired that in my peers.
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
I agree with Trish, my unit and the soldiers in it have only been supportive
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Trish E King
Unit morale and cohesion is what they said for people of color, women, LGB service members and even Japanese American's. That excuse has been baseless and used for over a hundred years to segregate.
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Alivia Stehlik
Just like Trish and Deirdre said - I’ve had nothing but support from my Soldiers, my peers, and my supervisors.
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B Fram
We're starting to get questions from the audience, thanks! Some will appear here, others may get rolled into my questions.
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Alivia Stehlik
They know that I care about them, that I have their backs, and that I’m good at my job - that’s all that matters in this job. I’m part of their family, just as they’re part of mine.
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Avatar for Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Deirdre Anne Hendrick
And trans service members don't bring added expense, that's a myth. In fact, in the reserve components the military doesn't pay for any of our medical costs to start with
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B Fram
For Alivia - You recently returned from deployment. Did being transgender cause any hardships on your deployment?
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Andy Blevins
I think we can draw some strong parallels from open service for our LGB community here. When I was closeted, living two separate lives, I was not the Sailor my country needed. With the repeal of DADT, folks were able to bring their whole selves to work -- making them a better person for their unit and better positioned to accomplish the mission. We had open service for trans folks before Trump pulled it away. Those parallels persisted then and will when open and authentic service is once again the law of the land.
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Alivia Stehlik
I was concerned that it would, honestly - I’d never been deployed before, but I understood that there were close quarters and was worried I’d make people uncomfortable.
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B Fram
For Deirdre - What challenges have been faced by transgender National Guard and reserve personnel that are different from Active Duty service members?
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Alivia Stehlik
But it was quite the opposite.
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Alivia Stehlik
I had nothing but support my entire deployment. From the biggest bases with thousands of service members to the smallest outposts with just a few special operations personnel, I was welcomed in and made part of the family.
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Well, B, the number one difference for the reserve components (Army & Air National Guard and each service's reserve) is that their service members get their medical care almost entirely privately (or for some combat veterans, from the VA). Getting civilian providers to understand and communicate with the military can be tough.
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Alivia Stehlik
And no matter where I went, no matter who was there - they always asked me to come back.
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Another challenge is that members of the reserve component may be socially transitioned 24/7 off duty, which is most of the time for them.
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B Fram
That's great Alivia! Sounds like there are some unforeseen challenges in the guard and reserve.
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B Fram
For Trish - You just retired from the Army, if you had the choice would you do it all over again? Would you recommend military service to transgender people today?
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Well before they are out to yhe military that is. Or even as a non-exempt service member under the new policy
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Avatar for Alivia Stehlik
Alivia Stehlik
If anything, my transition just made my job easier - people seemed to feel (and said they felt) very at ease talking to me. One Soldier told me that my willingness to stand up for something difficult made all the difference - the Soldiers respected that.
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Avatar for Trish E King
Trish E King
I would absolutely serve again! Trans people have been serving in the military for as long as we have had one and statistics show that we serve at a rate of almost 2-1 over our cisgender peers.
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B Fram
For Andy - What are advocacy organizations doing to support transgender service members?
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Trish E King
Our community has a long history of service and most choose want the policy to change so we can continue to serve
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B Fram
I'm sure the Army would love to have you back Trish!
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B Fram
For everyone - How can individuals best support transgender service members? How can they help us get back to an era of open service?
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Andy Blevins
Over here at MMAA, we have been working hard with some wonderful community partners on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, and in the court systems.
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Vote
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Trish E King
November 3rd, 2020 make sure you show up to the polls. Make your vote your voice.
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Andy Blevins
The majority of that work is helping our nation's legislators see the real-world ramifications this harmful legislation has not only on our nation, but on the service members, veterans, and their families that they vowed to protect. Most of the time, this takes shape by me meeting with Members of Congress and their staff to talk through some of the issues and concerns that they have. Other times, this takes shape in bringing some of our transgender siblings-in-arms into the room so our legislators can speak in an environment in which all parties feel comfortable and respected.
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Trish E King
Use service like resist bot to tell your elected officials that you believe in open trans service.
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Trish E King
Then get your friends and family to do the same.
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Andy Blevins
There have been a few Bills drafted specifically to address the ban on open transgender military service, including Congressman Joe Kennedy's Resolution (H.Res.124), Congresswoman Speier's Bill (H.R.1032), and Senator Gillibrand's Bill (S.373). Our conversations have been focused on supporting those legislative efforts.
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Andy Blevins
At this stage, it is about changing hearts and minds, and that is what my team and the teams of my sister organizations are focused on right now -- making sure those that are currently against open and authentic service realize why changing their position is the right, and necessary, thing to do.
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Avatar for Alivia Stehlik
Alivia Stehlik
Just like Trish and Deirdre said - vote. It matters!
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B Fram
I always say to share our stories, donate to groups fighting for civil rights (if you can), and call or write your representatives!
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Andy Blevins
And I echo what everyone is saying -- vote. Engage in productive conversations. Be vocal about your support.
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Alivia Stehlik
Andy is also on the money - meeting people, hearing our stories - these are the things that change minds.
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Avatar for Question from Tracy R Lawrence
Question from Tracy R Lawrence
Can the current ban have any further impact on those still serving? Is there any difference in how you are treated by commands and fellow soldiers without the previous protections in place?
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Question from Crutcher
How do you all stay so fabulous?!?! I love you all! Thank you for being amazing mentors and advocates!
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Alivia Stehlik
It absolutely has an impact. we won’t know the extent for some time to come, but it does.
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Trish E King
The truth is that the current ban is a potential first step
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
I get some sympathetic looks from my superiors but otherwise there is no difference in how I'm treated now
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B Fram
We've got a few minutes left, please send in your questions.
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Alivia Stehlik
For instance, my promotion board is upcoming. Given that our national leadership has said trans people don’t belong in the military, why would a board of senior officers choose to promote me?
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Avatar for Question from Tori Sharpe
Question from Tori Sharpe
I had been planning on re-entering the military after finishing my bachelors and then the ban happened, what action can I take to fight this injustice?
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
I think the biggest impact is on morale and not just for trans service members.
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B Fram
I think we answered this one Tori!
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Alivia Stehlik
They might - but they don’t know me personally, and the detail about me being transgender may be the tipping point to not promote me. It’s the same for many others with opportunities.
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B Fram
We hope you can join us someday soon!
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B Fram
All, When and how do you think we'll return to an era where transgender people can join and serve openly as their authentic selves?
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Avatar for Andy Blevins
Andy Blevins
From the advocacy perspective, the biggest impact is the chill this puts on encouraging folks to be authentic, to seek medical and mental health care, and limiting the able, willing, and qualified individusls that we are ready to wear the cloth. Its additionally important to note that trans folks that were not grandfathered in under the policy now have to serve in the wrong gender. As a cis person I will never know what that is like. But I know it is wrong and it needs to be stopped.
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Avatar for Trish E King
Trish E King
Tori: if you meet the pre ban entry criteria then go to a recruiter. The military claims this is waiverable. Have them submit a waiver, and write sympathetic congressmen for a reference letter.
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Andy Blevins
Jan 20, 2021.
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Andy Blevins
Tori -- get in touch with us :)
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Avatar for Alivia Stehlik
Alivia Stehlik
One day this will change. We don’t know when, but it will. But - it only will if we continue to do the work. To vote, to tell our stories, to keep doing ur jobs with excellence and proving the naysayers wrong.
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Question from Alice
How do we help the morale of those without a diagnosis?
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B Fram
As everyone answers, I'll also ask it panelists to give any closing thoughts they have.
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B Fram
While they do that, please check our websites for more information!
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Avatar for Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Alice, it's hard. Those of us who are exempt can continue to serve openly and our brothers and sisters and non-binary siblings can't. It's really, really hard.
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B Fram
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B Fram
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Alivia Stehlik
For me it is continuing to be visible and public and active in changing this.
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Deirdre Anne Hendrick
If you are trans and in the military, whether exempt or not, Rock Steady. We'll win this fight one day.
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Avatar for Question from Máel
Question from Máel
Stehlik for President 😉
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Avatar for Alivia Stehlik
Alivia Stehlik
It’s a willingness to be vulnerable publicly, to be outspoken
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Trish E King
I would vote for her
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Alivia Stehlik
Because we don’t get here without risk. We have to step into the unknown that so many of our forefathers and mother’s stepped into
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Avatar for Andy Blevins
Andy Blevins
The end of DADT and DOMA were just the beginning, my friends. Ten years ago, as a community we stood together against political forces to demand equity and justice. In doing so, we changed the way people think about LGBTQ people in this country -- forever. It is time we unite, once again, to do the same thing. Open and authentic service is not just the right thing to do, it is the best thing our country can do. So, please get involved. As B said, check out our websites to learn more!
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Avatar for Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Deirdre Anne Hendrick
If you are a cis member of the military or a civilian, show your support any way you can.
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Avatar for Question from Tori Sharpe
Question from Tori Sharpe
I'm prior service, does the ban apply to me? I got out in 2010 under dont ask dont tell and transitioned legally fully before the ban took effect, I'd already notified the VA ..
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Question from Ramona
Is anything being done to improve the health care of transitioning In the military for those that are able to serve openly?
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Avatar for Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Deirdre Anne Hendrick
Unfortunately it does Tori
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Trish E King
Be visible. Come out if you can and let people know that they are not alone.
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Avatar for Alivia Stehlik
Alivia Stehlik
Ramona - care in the military is generally really good.
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Alivia Stehlik
Doctors tend to be supportive. The biggest issue is all the policy changes at such a rapid pace - it prevents people from really becoming experts in how this all works procedurally.
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Alivia Stehlik
But medically the doctors are on point, at least in my experience.
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B Fram
Those are the last few questions. A huge thank you to all of our panelists. Please feel free to follow up with any of us. I'm addition to the websites, good talk had links to all of our social media profiles.
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B Fram
Thanks for joining us tonight!
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Andy Blevins
Thanks for tuning in everyone! WONDERFUL questions.
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Trish E King
Thank you all so much.
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