The military provides an extremely important service to the United States, as it helps citizens remain a sense of safety. Unfortunately, the US military has not always been accommodating to its LGBT members, with harmful policies such as the now-repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that was instituted under Bill Clinton on December 21st, 1993, which prohibited LGBT military members from telling others about their sexuality and from discussing any homosexual relationships, and any members who would divulge such information would be discharged, as openly LGBT people were not allowed to serve in the military.
One member, Eric Alva shares his struggles with being gay in the military and having to hide his sexuality, Herald-Dispatch reports. Eric spoke at the Tri-State Conference on Diversity & Inclusion in Huntington, West Virginia on Friday, September 28th. Eric Alva had served in the Iraq War where he was injured after stepping on a landmine and suffered right-hand paralysis and severe leg injuries that resulted in him having to get his right leg amputated. Afterwards, he was discharged and awarded a Purple Heart from former president George W. Bush. While recovering, he felt that he did not want to live with his disabilities and wished that he had died during the blast.
Alva was afraid to come out, fearing the reactions he would get from the people who he associated with. He then figured that he can use his experience as a gay Marine to advance LGBT rights. He came out as gay in 2007 in "Good Morning America." Today he works as a specialist in the University of Texas in the San Antonio Department of Social Work and had previously spoken about repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which was repealed in 2010 by former president Barack Obama. Alva, through his bravery in both serving in the US military and his coming out, has helped many LGBT people who struggle to disclose their sexuality. He showed that being gay is only a small part of one's identity and that people are much more than their sexuality.