Servicemembers United is reporting that 443 soldiers were discharged under the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy during fiscal year 2009. “The annual fiscal year ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharge statistic combines the total number of discharges reported by the Department of Defense, which was 428, with the total number of discharges reported by the Department of Homeland Security for the Coast Guard, which was 15.”
“This brings the official 17-year total, according to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, to 13,425 discharges,” the group says, noting that the number may be an underestimate:
Although only 443 total discharges are included in the official statistic for fiscal year 2009, the true number of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges is very likely higher. When pressed by Servicemembers United, the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Freedom of Information Office confirmed on three separate occasions in late 2009 and early 2010 that the internal source of their annual “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharge numbers is the Defense Manpower Data Center, and that Defense Manpower Data Center statistics do not include discharges from the Reserves or the National Guard. [...]
The Department of Defense in general – and the Defense Manpower Data Center specifically – has consistently failed to disclose full information and data related to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges in blatant violation of the Freedom of Information Act. In response to one request for information by Servicemembers United in mid-2009, the Department of Defense took more than twice the amount of time allowable by law to produce less than one-tenth of one percent of the requested data – data that was not classified and not protected by the Privacy Act. Information requests from members of Congress, including House Armed Services Committee members, have also been only partially filled.
Studies have indicated that the cost of discharging and replacing service members fired because of their sexual orientation during the policy’s first 10 years varied from $190.5 million to $363.8 million. It’s estimated that there are at least 65,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers on active military duty today and another 1 million gay and lesbian veterans.