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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Military discharge of gays prior to DADT

People forget that prior to DADT, it was simply illegal to be gay or lesbian and serve in the US military. When I served, our battalion commander initiated a witch hunt to eliminate gays, lesbians and atheists (while it isn't/wasn't illegal to be an atheist and serve, he looked for any excuse, discharging one linguist for being 2 pounds over the weight limit). Since I fall into 2 of those 3 categories, I was high on his list to discharge. Luckily, I was at the end of my term of service, so I left voluntarily, although he tried to retain me so that he could have a court martial. That would have resulted in incarceration at the Federal holding barracks in Mannheim, Germany. He made very clear what he wished to do, which worked in my favor. I was able to enlist the aid of the then-Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam Nunn, D-GA (who intervened only from a cost standpoint since my term of service was over), in order to get out without being jailed. The commander had gone to great lengths to carry out his witch hunt, using two junior enlisted men to seduce soldiers of rank in order to prosecute and discharge them. The plan was to claim use of force and fraternization although force was never used and the younger soldiers weren't in my, or any of the other affected soldiers' chain-of-command. It was a witch hunt, plain and simple.

Just after I left the unit and the Army, Congress sent a delegation to Augsburg to find out why this battalion had the lowest re-enlistment rate...not just in Europe...not just in the Army...but in the entire US military. Since we were an Intelligence battalion, US taxpayers had spent MILLIONS of dollars training each one of us, sending us to language school for a year or more, lengthy and entailed technical training, not to mention the year-long investigations into the soldiers and their families going back 3 generations for the required security clearances. He lost his command, but in an upside-down turn of events, went on to get his full bird (the rank of colonel). It was at that time (the late 80s, early 90s) that Fundamentalist Christians were infiltrating the military...all order to create what they thought of as God's Army. And that always made me wonder...if their god is so powerful...why does he need an army?