Back in November, Don't Ask Don't Tell was all over the news; it was even beginning to develop a presence here on ArmyStrongStories.com – I mentioned it, and LTC Andre Dean posted a few times about (more about that later); since then, Cadet Ulrich and LT Harper have both mentioned it; 1SG Hynes and SSG Chase have both shared great, personal stories; and ArmyStrongStories.com resident super-star, LT Kayley Nammari talked about the personal blowback she's gotten (even though she hasn't actually written directly about it). As the Army prepared for the President's (inevitable, in my opinion) repeal of that policy, I thought we'd have a broad discussion about the issue and the way ahead for the Army. And quite frankly, I'd hoped that having that broad, open discussion would convince folks that this change was long overdue.
Pretending that gay and lesbian Soldiers haven't been honorably serving in uniform for years is like living with blinders on, seeing only what you want to see. The fact is, our service is made up of gay, straight, lesbian, religious, atheist, White, Black, Native American, rich, poor, …. etc. Pick a label – somebody like that is wearing a uniform just like mine. That is one of the great things about our service – about our Nation! – and it's something that I get to see everyday in the cross-section of clients I serve; it's part of the reason I love my job.
I mentioned LTC Dean earlier and wanted to touch on something that other folks noticed as well. His handful of posts about DADT have been removed! He first suggested an open airing of opinions here on ArmyStrongStories.com at the beginning of December. Congress was debating; talking heads were yacking; and it wouldn't be long before the President had a repeal bill to sign (signed on 22 DEC). But by the end of the month, his series of posts had been removed.
I met LTC Dean at BlogWorld back in October and I like the guy. He's smart, sincere, genuinely interested in people, and loves the Army and the idea behind ArmyStrongstories. That's why I was really looking forward to debating him a little bit on DADT. Clearly, I think he's wrong, but at the end of the day, I agreed that having an articulate airing of competing beliefs would be useful in making sure everyone understands the competing positions. Based on survey data, it seems LTC Dean holds a minority position in the Army, but his is a significant minority and I think we need to understand his concerns to make sure the transition out of the era of DADT goes smoothly.
To that end, the Army has begun to train everyone about what repeal of the policy means for our future. As I go through that training, I intend to share some of the highlights. I hope you'll find it interesting. The fact that the Army is moving forward is a great thing; how we do it, though, is the real test of the service.