Time to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'? 300 language experts have been forced out including 85 Arabic linguists.

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sun Jul 20 18:06:05 UTC 2008


 Time to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'? Iraq War Hero Says Policy is Wrong,
But Other's Say It's Working By MIGUEL MARQUEZ and JENNA MUCHA

*July 19, 2008—*

Eric Alva was hailed as a hero after the Marines staff sergeant became the
first American injured in Iraq, but now he's in a battle with the military.

In March 2003, after just two months in the Middle East, he was traveling in
a convoy with his battalion in Iraq when he stepped on a landmine, breaking
his right arm and injuring his right leg so badly it needed to be amputated.
Alva was awarded the Purple Heart and was honorably discharged from the
military.

"The president and first lady hugged me and said bless you," Alva said.

Earlier this year, though, Alva announced he was gay and came out against
one of the military's most controversial policies. He says the "don't ask,
don't tell" policy needs to be overturned, and that rules should be adopted
to protect homosexuals who serve in the military.

"There needs to be a change in the uniform code of military justice," said
Alva.

Since the policy was adopted in 1993, 12,500 men and women have been
dismissed from the military. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a
gay, lesbian and bisexual advocacy group, says nearly 800 of those dismissed
had skills the Pentagon deemed "mission critical."

A leading example of this are the 300 language experts that have been forced
out including 85 Arabic linguists.

"I think over the years, people have begun to ask whether it really serves
that purpose," Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif. said.

It is estimated that the military has spent more than $360 million
investigating allegations of homosexual conduct throughout all of the
forces.

When former President Clinton announced the policy, he paid a heavy
political price. Fifteen years later, the question is whether the military
and the country are ready to revisit "don't ask, don't tell."

The two presumptive presidential candidates have different opinions on the
issue. Republican Sen. John McCain has said the policy is working and does
not need to be changed.

Sen. Barack Obama, the likely Democratic candidate, has said he will reverse
the policy when he becomes president.

A bipartisan study by retired military officers concluded that gays serving
openly in the military would have little effect on a unit's ability to
fight. But many soldiers disagree.

"When you undermined trust and confidence because of forced intimate
situations where there's sexual tension, same-sex tension, then you really
hurt the overall ability of an organization to function effectively," Army
senior strategist Bob Maginnis said.

Alva said the U.S. military should accept him, just as many of his Marine
colleagues have already accepted him.

"I'm a godfather to three Marine's kids," he said. "They accept me."

Alva is scheduled to testify before Congress next week on his experiences
and his opinions regarding the current policy regarding homosexuals in the
military.

 Copyright (c) 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures
http://www.abcnews.go.com/print?id=5410101

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