Veterans Day is a time of pride for America's veterans and for the entire country. It is a day that we are allowed to take pride in our accomplishments, accomplishments we veterans view as "just doing our job.” For me personally, it brings back some of the anxiety about serving in the military as a gay man. I take great pride in my service yet still have difficulties coming to terms with the fact that just because I am gay, I am not allowed to serve.
When I was discharged for being gay in April of 2002, I was confused at first. I held the Navy's core values--"Honor, Courage, Commitment”-- at heart. I honored my shipmates, my seniors, my ship, my Navy and my country. I had plenty of courage to deploy again in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (In fact, when I left New York City on September 10th, 2001 and was watching terror unfold the next day, I returned to my ship as fast as I could. I had my military ID out and let the airline know I had to get home as soon as possible.) And I had plenty of commitment. After serving more than 14 years, I was ready to serve another 14 more, or as long as they would let me stay. But by discharging me, the Navy was telling me that my Honor, my Courage and my Commitment wasn't enough. That for some reason my service wasn't needed or wanted.
So for me, Veterans Day is a day of pride. It's also a day of rememberance of what Don't Ask, Don't Tell really is; a wasteful, discriminatory policy rooted in bigotry and hatred. It's time to end DADT, not for myself or the other GLBT veterans, but for the 65,000 GLBT active servicemembers protecting us today. It's also for the new generation of servicemembers that want to serve, but will look the other way because of DADT.
Step up, Mr. President. End DADT now.