Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Honor Every Veteran

At the dance party this past weekend, they had beer mats that stated "Honor Every Veteran."




These had been printed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. I have been aware of this organization and their work to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for several years now. I had not, until this evening, supported their efforts with a donation.

On the back it says the following:
One million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have served in our armed forces. Yet, the Pentagon fires 2 people every day for being gay."


TWO PEOPLE EVERY DAY!

Regardless of my personal feelings about the United States being in Iraq, the fact is that we are there, and yes, I fully believe it is possible to support the troops without supporting the war, nor the Commander In Chief. I also freely admit to having quite conflicted views on military service, duty to country, fetishization of uniforms, etc. Those views are not the topic of this post.

Beyond that, frankly, I don't have a dog in this hunt. I have not served, and as far as I know, the few friends that I have who have served or are serving are not at risk from DADT. Maybe it's because I remember all to clearly the fear and isolation of being in the closet, which was of course a closet of my own choosing. The people affected by this policy are forced into a closet constructed by the US military, and if they dare to come out during their time of service, they lose their jobs. I feel that this is an important issue, and one I choose to put some effort behind.

So given the fact that the US is in both Iraq and Afghanistan, another cold hard fact is that there is a severe shortage of military personnel. One of the most critical shortages faced by the military is that of well-trained Arabic translators. Yet, since the inception of DADT, over fifty soldiers with that specific training have been dismissed; over eight hundred in total who have specialized skills.

A year ago, in an absolutely stunning display of ineptitude, officers at Fort Bragg even saw fit to discharge Bleu Copas, a well-trained Arabic language specialist, with no more evidence than some anonymous emails. He didn't tell, even though they did, apparently ask. Reportedly, they even went so far as to ask him if he was involved in community theater. What's next? "Do you own any CDs by The Pet Shop Boys?" "How many times have you seen The Sound Of Music?"

I urge anybody who is at all interested or affected by this to check out both the SLDN website linked above, as well as the SLDN blog.

Perhaps Robert Gates will finally do the right thing and repeal this useless policy. I haven't seen much on where he stands. In the meantime, I feel it is imperative to support those who choose to enter the US military, knowing the dangers of enlisting during wartime, and especially knowing that this policy can be used against them at any time.

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