Letter from a Mountain Soldier
An infantry officer in Afghanistan explains the personal relevance of DADT
This is indeed revolutionary stuff. Not the deliberate reconsideration of the DADT issue, but that you're actively encouraging such an adult, open dialog.
I'm one of your officers, currently deployed supporting a WIAS tasker and I look forward to my Division meeting up with me here in Afghanistan. My partner of 10 years and I have happily accepted the various assignments the Army has given me this past decade and have weathered my two 12-month-long and one 15-month-long deployments like, I would imagine, nearly every other couple - save for one detail: the partner I leave behind has no support from any official channels. He would be notified after my brother who is listed as my Emergency POC/NOK. After 10 years, my partner has earned the right to be told first about my death. He has earned the right to make my health emergency decisions. And, he has earned the right to be recognized for his sacrifices just as any other spouse. The exception being that he is not a spouse. We are not a recognized couple. And the very fact that he and I live in a marriage-like relationship could cause us to lose my pension and our financial security later in life.
As a former combat arms commander, I've had to face the DADT issue not just because I am gay - an imutable characteristic that is no more a choice for me than someone could choose their race - but because I've had 4 gay men in my command who I have known to be gay. I knew about two of them because they believed that living a lie was counter to their ethical charge as Soldiers. One was chaptered and the other was transferred. I knew about another because he was outed by an Evangelical roommate who had "baited" him into admitting it to him. He was not chaptered because we were a week from deploying and no one believed he really was gay. When he left the Army after we redeployed, he came back to tell me that indeed, he was gay. And, I knew about the fourth one because after he died of wounds from an IED, his partner of four years wrote me - not knowing my orientation - to tell me how much SSG ___ loved the Army, how we were the only family he'd ever known, and how much he appreciated the support of his fellow NCOs who knew about his personal life and whose spouses back home had taken care of him (the partner).
The "there's a gay dude looking at me in the shower/coming on to me in the fox hole" argument is a pathetic, lame canard. Having been through more than my share of the Army's best lodging - Ranger School comes to mind, as do the Hindu Kush, the desert in Iraq, and multiple Army gyms across world - I can tell you that the only thing I've ever thought about while showering was getting in and getting out. I'd be lying if I was to say that I've not worked with attractive people. We all have. But the difference between being an animal and a professional is, among other things, our ability to control ourselves. And, the only thing I've ever thought about in actual combat was living long enough to take care of my guys and to make it home alive.
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this ongoing discussion. And, I hope that if GEN Ham and his panel ask you what your opinion is, that you answer based on the facts, on the beliefs of this current generation of Soldier, and that you eschew the bigoted hypotheses of those who do not believe that the only way for Soldiers to truly be the Soldiers they are ethically charged to be, is to be honest with their buddies, honest with their chain of command, and honest to themselves.
Mountain Soldier (fwd)
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