Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Discharges: Could the numbers actually be higher than reported? Read this. You’ll be surprised.By Grace Chu
Grace The Spot normally writes cheeky and irreverent articles about lesbian culture, but there is nothing funny about the following. It is a story that needs to be told, however.
Grace The Spot reader Angie, a lesbian who was discharged from the Air Force, contacted us about the circumstances surrounding her discharge. On paper, she was discharged for failure to meet fitness standards, but there is reason to believe that her discharge was a result of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and that the number of DADT discharges in general has been artificially deflated.
“In an effort to hide the numbers of soldiers, sailors and airmen discharged from military service under the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, they kick them out for something different,” she said. “They find something you have done wrong or something wrong with you and kick you out officially for another cause. They do not want the numbers to be too high because that will call attention to the fact that something needs to change. The real numbers would show how much the policy of DADT harms the United States military.”
We spoke to her to get the details of her story.
Grace: Before you were discharged, how long were you in the military?
Angie: 3 years
Grace: What was your job / rank in the military, and did you ever see combat?
Angie: F-16 Avioincs Journeyman and E-4m SrA (Senior Airman). I was deployed in Iraq for four months.
Grace: How did you meet your partner?
Angie: We met at Zion National Park. We were both rock climbing and from the Phoenix area.
Grace: To what lengths did you go to hide your relationship from the military?
Angie: We could not hold hands or kiss in public. I could not bring her to base functions and family days. She was completely isolated from my military life, but I was not ashamed of her and was not going to go to any length to hide the fact that I loved her.
Grace: What were the circumstances under which you were discharged?
Angie: One day, I was on a date with her at a restaurant about 30 minutes from base. We were snuggling and kissing, but nothing too crazy. One of the guys I knew took some video of us with his iPhone and put it on his MySpace page. He did not mean any harm by doing that. He was just a perv. However, as the video spread I had to go see the commander. I had fractured my back one year prior to this. I was still recovering and trying to get back in shape to pass my fitness test. They gave me two options. The first was to take an honorable discharge and they would file failure to meet fitness standards, even though I had more time to try and pass. The second was face a court martial where they will rifle through all my belongings, search my computer, and interview my friends. If they decide I am in fact gay I would get a dishonorable discharge. I took the honorable discharge.
Grace: What happened after that?
Angie: I became very depressed. To make a long story short, she left me, and I left the state with nowhere to go. I was living in base housing, but since I was booted out, I wasn’t able to live there anymore. I lived in a homeless shelter for some time.
Grace: You were living in a homeless shelter even though you took an honorable discharge? It surprises me that someone who was discharged honorably, which includes those injured in combat, would simply be dumped on the street. The military doesn’t have a transitional program?
Angie: No, they do not. Well, technically, they have a transitional program through the VA, but it was a frozen asset not accepting any more people, and I believe it still may be. You would be surprised at the number of vets dumped on the streets. It is a high number. They do not care that you lose your base housing when you are discharged. You are not their problem anymore.
Grace: That’s horrible! What are some final words you would like to say about your experience?
Angie: I would not change my actions at all. I do not feel like I did anything wrong and I am not ashamed of who I am or who I loved.
Grace: Despite everything you’ve gone through, do you still believe that this country is worth fighting for?
Angie: Yes I do. We have a ways to go I know that but yes I believe this country is fighting for and I would definitely step up again if I could.