Since the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy went into effect, the Pentagon has dismissed more than 11,000 servicemembers, many of whom have key specialty skills such as training in medicine and language. At a time when the military faces a readiness crisis, the Pentagon cannot afford to dismiss two service members a day as it is doing under the current policy.
Today, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) reintroduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill that would allow gays to serve openly in the military. Joining Meehan at a press conference today was retired Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first American soldier to be seriously wounded in Iraq. A gay man, Alva did not admit his sexual orientation until he retired from the military, but Alva has since become a strong advocate for repealing the policy. Good Morning America told his story this morning.
In an interview not included in the televised report, Alva told ABC News about how his old Marine buddies took the news that he was gay:
“I told tons of people,” he said, with a laugh. “A lot of my friends, my buddies, my closest Marines, people I had served in combat with. Straight guys, married, with children and everything, three of them which I have become their sons’ godfather now. Everybody was just respectful and was just like ordinary. ‘That’s it? That’s your big news?’”
Alva says that while anti-gay language wasn’t exactly unheard of in the Marines, generally he thinks troops are ready for gays and lesbians to serve openly.
“Being on the front lines and serving with the people who even actually knew that I was gay, you know, that was never a factor. We were there to do a job. We were [there] to do a mission. I don’t think people would have a hard time with it because they know that the person right next to them is going to be there to protect them, in our terms, ‘have their back.’”
Learn more about the effort to lift the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy here.