Now is the time. After years of talking with our membership, key leaders in the new veterans community, and the Department of Defense, IAVA joins the Pentagon and top military leaders in supporting the repeal of ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). This is one of several important provisions for our community in the pending Defense Authorization Bill.
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the country that DADT should and can be repealed.
Their opinion is supported by an unprecedented DoD study of 115,000 service members, a majority of whom indicated that repeal of DADT would not have a negative impact on their ability to conduct their mission. Results from a recent IAVA survey of our membership echoed these findings, revealing that a clear majority of our membership does not object to gay men and women openly serving in the military.
IAVA shares Secretary Gates’ and Admiral Mullen’s opinion that upholding the integrity of the military as an institution is critical. All men and women who have committed their lives to service and sacrifice in the military should be treated equally.
Whether or not Congress votes to overturn DADT in the next few weeks, this is an issue that will impact members of our community for years to come. As the Pentagon has strongly warned, if repeal is not enacted through Congress, the debate will move to the courts. A court decision to repeal could result in an overnight policy change that may not allow for thoughtful and adequate preparation by military leadership. We strongly believe that commanders should determine the tempo on military policy. Not the courts.
But DADT isn’t the only policy in jeopardy within this year’s Defense Authorization Bill. This legislation also contains critical provisions to expand mental health care resources, address Traumatic Brain Injury and Military Sexual Trauma, and improve electronic sharing of health records between the DoD and the VA - all issues of high priority for IAVA members.
We hope the Senate passes this legislation now and turns to other key issues facing our community, like making sure all Iraq and Afghanistan vets have jobs.
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Founder and Executive Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)