New Hope For Soldiers Discharged Under DADT?
Gay and lesbian service members that have been dishonorably discharged from service due to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may soon have some respite.
The legislation, called the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, would put into law concrete procedures for those kicked out of the military because they were gay to have a review of their records to change the discharge from 'dishonorable' to 'honorable.'
As Representative Mark Pocan, the bill's sponsor, explains that a dishonorable discharge has tangible consequences for former service members outside of the military. He notes that 'in many states a dishonorable discharge is treated as a felony," and that even veterans with a "general discharge" on their records "can encounter...difficulties acquiring civilian employment."
He continues: "Depending on the discharge received, service members may also be blocked from voting, unemployment benefits, participating in the GI Bill or receiving veteran benefits such as health care, VA disability, and ceremonial burial rights at military cemeteries.
"For too long, tens of thousands of men and women who selflessly risked their lives for our country have lived with the dishonorable records that came from the unjust “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. But the support we have received for our legislation demonstrates the country’s strong desire to close the book on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and rightfully recognize the service of all of our courageous service members."
With this bill in the House and the Senate bill that will provide equal benefits to same-sex spouses of military service members, it appears that government is making real efforts to right the wrongs perpetrated against those that voluntarily defend (and have defended) our nation.