Editor’s Note: Today is a Day of Action to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Author and Iraq veteran Michael Anthony sent me a guest post to share on the blog, so that readers might hear a veteran’s view of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It seems highly appropriate to share it today.
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 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 Are people afraid that the day after DADT is rescinded; gay soldiers are going to walk in wearing a feather boa and buttless fatigues?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, from suicides, mail fraud, attempted murder, to gang bangs, orgies, and PTSD.