Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DOD Confirms Four DADT Discharges, Servicemembers Outed Themselves

The Pentagon confirmed on Monday that four Air Force servicemembers have been discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell since the House and Senate voted to repeal  the law last year. The four in question volunteered their sexual orientation for the express purpose of using DADT to get out of the service.

Air Force Spokesman Maj. Joel Harper told The Advocate that all four individuals made voluntary statements about their sexual orientation and requested to be "separated expeditiously" from service.

The Pentagon would not release or confirm the names of the four military personnel for privacy reasons, but released the following statement Monday:
“On April 29th, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force approved the discharge of an Airman under the provisions of 10 USC 654. On May 31st, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force approved discharges of two Airmen under the provisions of 10 USC 654. On June 23, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force accepted the resignation of an Airman who asked to be separated under the provisions of 10 USC 654.
“Each case was approved after coordination with the DoD General Counsel and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The officials evaluated these cases carefully and concluded that separation was appropriate. 
“Each Airman made a statement identifying themselves as gay. Each Airman asked to be separated expeditiously after being informed of the current status of the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' Until repeal occurs, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' remains the law."
29 Apr -- Airman 1st Class, Male
31 May -- Staff Sgt., Female
31 May -- Staff Sgt., Female
23 Jun -- 2nd Lt., Male
Servicemembers United released the following statement about the recent discharges:
"It is rather shocking that we continue to see isolated incidents of servicemembers trying to force the Pentagon to let them out of their service obligations because the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law still technically remains on the books," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans. "The Pentagon has made it abundantly clear that it does not want to enforce 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' any longer and that it is more than willing to deal with any lingering harassment issues through the chain of command or, in the case of command involvement, the base's or post's Inspector General's office. Thousands of servicemembers have dreamed of the day when 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' would be virtually dead and commands would plead with openly gay servicemembers to remain in the service. It really would behoove the Defense Department to expedite certification so that no one can use this archaic law as a loophole to leave the military early anymore."
Aubrey Sarvis, of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, had this to say:
“These Air Force discharges underscore that DADT investigations and discharges continue. Unfortunately, SLDN has a client right now who was recently recommended for discharge at a board hearing, and his paperwork is headed to the Navy Secretary. He made no statement, and he wants to continue serving. We have another client who is having a board hearing later this week, and if this senior enlisted person is recommended for discharge, her paperwork will likely be before the Navy Secretary in short order. She, too, wishes to continue serving. Let me be clear. At SLDN, we have scores of clients who have been advised they are under DADT investigations. Some of these clients have between 10 and 15 years of honorable service, few made voluntary statements, and none to my knowledge has asked to be ‘separated expeditiously.’ For these service members, especially, certification and final repeal cannot come soon enough. The continued stress of investigations and the risk of separation under DADT is real and very much imminent.”
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