Retired Military Chaplains Announce Support For Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Military veterans call for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't TellLast week, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) revealed the legislative timeline for a repeal of the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. “Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill,” Frank told the Advocate. “’Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was always going to be part of the military authorization.”

Now, the movement to repeal the ban on gay men and women from serving openly in the military has gained even more momentum. Three former military chaplains are announcing today that they support a full repeal of the DADT. In a Q&A released by VoteVets, the three men, Charles D. Camp, Chaplain (Colonel), USA (Ret.), John F. Gundlach, CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret.), and Jerry Rhyne, Chaplain (Colonel), USAF (Ret.), also addressed implementation concerns regarding a repeal:

What would be the impact of changing the current law on unit cohesion and morale?

The 2009 Joint Forces Quarterly article states clearly, “After a careful examination, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly.” A 1993 RAND Corp. report concludes the same, as do several other military-commissioned reports. In addition, 68 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan troops said, according to a 2006 Zogby poll, they either knew for certain (23%) or suspected (45%) there were gays in their own unit. That means there are tens of thousands of known gay service members currently working and fighting alongside their straight peers, and there is no demonstrable negative impact on unit morale, cohesion or combat readiness. In fact, 73% of troops in the poll said they were “comfortable” in the presence of gay peers. […]

Polling data from current U.S. troops combined with the experience of our foreign military allies demonstrate that known gays in a unit do not degrade morale, cohesion or operational readiness.

Disputing the claims often made by supporters of DADT, Camp, Gundlach, and Rhyne argue that repealing the policy would actually help the military’s recruitment and retention:

What would be the impact of changing the current law on recruiting and retention?

Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” would help recruiting and retention. The recent issue of Joint Forces Quarterly, an article—reportedly signed off on by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen–convincingly makes the case that current law has been “costly both in personnel and treasure,’’ referring to the cost of discharging service members and recruiting replacements, including those with language or other specialized skills. Approximately two service members are discharged each day under DADT. This number includes linguists, physicians, pilots and others highly trained personnel in mission critical specialties. Costs for the training of replacements are in the hundreds of millions. According to the UCLA’s Williams Institute, an estimated 2500-3000 service members either leave the service, or choose not to re-enlist, because of the law. When the number of involuntary discharges under “don’t ask, don’t tell” is combined with the voluntary attrition because of this law, the result is an annual loss of 4000 trained, experienced and often combat tested troops. Replacing these veterans with recent graduates of recruit training or newly commissioned officers would naturally reduce unit readiness.

VoteVets is “gathering names of veterans to give to the White House and Congress to let them know now is the time to overturn this discriminatory policy.” Veterans can sign the petition here and civilians can sign a petition of support here.

Access the full release and Q & A here (pdf).


VetVoice’s Richard Allen Smith writes that “this group of retired field grade officers understands that DADT is nothing but a harmful policy that discriminates against a group of otherwise qualified individuals who want nothing more than to defend their country.”

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