Sunday, February 14, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I know you place tremendous value on your time so I'll be brief. I am an Iraq war veteran and I would like to submit the following article for you to use on your website so that people can hear a real veteran's view of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and we can help spread the word.
best, Michael

Why not? Here's the piece:

Don’t Ask…Ahh…Too Late

"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 an episode of the TV show
Will and Grace (it was kind of funny). [Watching Will and Grace is not "experiencing" gay people, but rather dumb caricatures of gay people -- interjection from Dr. Bill.]

For the policy known as 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 Are people afraid that the day after DADT is rescinded gay soldiers are going to walk in wearing a feather boa and buttless fatigues?
[Incredibly, there are people who are opposed to gay men in the military because they actually believe every gay man is a "swishy" stereotype whose wrist is too limp to lift a weapon.] 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
[at least for straight guys.] 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. [Well ... a kiss is just a kiss. Maybe all-out making out with another guy in front of the commander might get them bounced out of the Army -- but then they're probably gay to begin with!]

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." [Well, you've got the subject for your next book.]

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.

The book has gotten some very good reviews.

Thanks for your input, Michael. It's interesting that I have met gay men who are opposed to repealing DADT -- or at least don't want gay men in the Army -- because they don't want gay men to be sucked into or used by the "military-industrial complex" the way, in their opinion, straight guys are. For political reasons they don't see being in the military as a worthy goal. While I understand their viewpoint, I am in favor of repealing DADT. It's another step toward acceptance, and to reminding the world of the diversity of the gay community. I'm not saying I would have ever wanted a career in the military, but it certainly should be an option to openly gay men who are interested in it.

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