Saturday, February 13, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

Every now and again I receive an e-mail from one of my readers that intrigues me. This week I received a gem from Michael Anthony in which he explains how a real veteran view "Don't Ask Don't Tell".

My name is Michael Anthony, I am an Iraq war veteran and having spent six years in the Army, at the age of twenty-three, I have spent more than a quarter of my life in service to this country. I have four older brothers and an older sister, all of whom have been in the military: Air Force, Marines and Army. My father and both my grandfathers were in the military.

Hailing originally for a small sheltered town just south of Boston Massachusetts, I say this in all earnestness: the only gay people I know have all been in the military. This is not a joke or some talking point, it’s literal. Generals, Commanders and Civilians can talk all they want, but the fact of the matter is, the only gay friends I've had have all been in the military, in fact, my only experience of gay people (outside of the military) is when I once watched and episode of the TV show Will and Grace (it was kind of funny).

For the policy known as Dont' Ask Don't Tell (DADT), there is one thing people often forget. People forget that the policy doesn’t preclude gay people from entering the military it just precludes them from talking about their homosexuality. In short, someone can be gay in the military; they just can’t talk about being gay in the military.

If people are already in the military and gay — from my former unit alone I know close to a dozen — what is it that people are afraid will happen with the repeal of DADT? Are people afraid that the day after DADT is rescinded; gay soldiers are going to walk in wearing a feather boa and buttless fatigues? The uniform policy will still be in effect so we can cross that option out. Are people afraid that it’s going to hurt troop morale? The Military suicide rate is at a thirty year high having consistently risen for the past five years, with eighteen veterans killing themselves everyday (according to the VA) so it seems like it can’t get any worse.

With everything said, there is a negative aspect to repealing DADT. Having been in the military all my adult years, my peer group is filled with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Several of these war veterans having done two or three tours, have sworn that they will never go back to Iraq or Afghanistan. Upon further questioning on how they plan to get out deployment if called, their answer is simple: “don’t ask, don’t tell,” expounding further, they say that if they’re called up, they will simply kiss a member of the same sex — in front of their commander. So how is repealing DADT going to affect the military? The answer is simple…my friends who jokingly suggested using DADT as a way to get out of a deployment are now stuck going to Iraq or Afghanistan.

And please don’t even get me started on the escapades that go on overseas. But hey, what happens in Iraq stays in Iraq…ahh not quite.

Michael Anthony is the author of MASS CASUALTIES: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception and Dishonor in Iraq (Adams Media, October 2009).

The book is drawn from the personal journals of Anthony during the 1st year he spent serving in Iraq. It is a non-partisan look at some of the escapades that go on behind the scenes in Iraq.


Juz said...

Now that was mighty interesting.
Thanks for sharing.

Pierre said...

Justin, my pleasure. Now to get my hands on Michael's book! Should be a fascinating read.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully... sad. Thanks for sharing.

Eugene Hon said...

I am a follower of your blog and take delight in this entry, as a South African Artist. I made a ceramic work based on the American Policy; Don't Ask don't tell. The work is entitled Government Inspected Meat (slang for gays serving in the armed forces) it highlights the absurdity of the situation. The atrocities of war was brought to our attention by the world renowned gay poet,Wilfred Owen (died six days before the end of the first world war). He became famous only after his death (rediscovered during the 70's). Sadly his sexual orientation was hidden for many years. Every aspect of his gay life(letters to his lover Sassoon etc.) was destroyed to protect his status in society as renowned poet and war hero. Most insightful entry at a critical time.

leathersammie said...

Somehow I am not comforted by knowing that our enlisted persons are in Iraq and Afguanistan doing anything at all other than their job but from some vets I have spoken with I already know it. Everything from bullying to rape and child molestation, torturing animals and worse. Now, it would seem that even the heterosexual soldiers are hoping to lie and pretend to be gay just to get out of another deployment. Disgusting bunch of shit, when I hear daily how "we don't want our soldiers showering with gays." You know what? Those idiots who are SO concerned about gays in the military better start worrying about the rapists and child molesters in the military because NO ONE is safe from THEM.

Pierre said...

@ DrDancer, my pleasure

@ Eugene Hon, there are many gay heroes in our history. Think it's about time that they are honored in an appropriate manner.

@ leathersammie, very sad but true.

Ál said...

Very interesting, thanks for sharing this.

nothingprofound said...

Amazing how we keep denying reality in order to keep up appearances. It's not what you are, but what you're not, that's "normal."

Pierre said...

@ Ál, thanks ;-)

@ nothingprofound, very true. It's sad that society still is so denialist. Don't Ask Don't Tell is a prime example!

L Avery Brown said...

What an insightful posting. I've always thought the policy was sort of an idiotic one any way but I've never been in the military so maybe they know something I don't know. What I do know is that bullets do not know if you're gay or straight nor do IEDs.

Personally, I salute anyone who stands up to defend what their nation believes is right.

BTW, the great Roman Empire w/it's awesome military had lots of openly gay soldiers and they were THE dominant force in Europe, Asia and part of Africa for centuries...their empire collapsed b/c of mismanagement not b/c of who slept w/whom!

But what do I know? I'm just a straight petite girl from the South, I'm supposed to be dumb, right?

Pierre said...

L Avery Brown, you make an excellent point! Also love your sense of humor "But what do I know? I'm just a straight petite girl from the South, I'm supposed to be dumb, right?"

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