Friday, December 7, 2007

Go Ahead and Tell... just sign up

News this week that 3 retired high-ranking military officers have outed themselves in commemoration of the US "don't ask, don't tell" 10-year anniversary. In true military fashion, let's call it DADT, like they do.

Keith Kerr, age 71, is a Korean War vet who retired from the US in the 50s, was an officer in the Army Reserve until 1986, then a Brigidier General in the California State Military Reserve -- which is actually a state militia and not bound by "don't tell."

Alan M. Steinman, age 62, was a Coast Guard Admiral (a Rear Admiral, actually. call Jay Leno) and physician who is an expert in hypothermia.

Virgil Richard, age 70, identified as "funny," (what one says in Oklahoma) as a young man, and was inspired to come out at the Australia Gay Games. That sentence right there is the thesis of my next novel. Also truer-than-fiction, Richard's section leader at Army War College (a name we all wish they would change) was John Shalikashvili, once Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under President's Clinton's "don't ask" policy at the time it was enacted.

Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, Retd, published his open letter January 2 of this year, in the New York Times, and stood by his decision to support DADT as the right policy at that time. He does not express regret for the policy, or refer to the estimated 10, 000 servicemen and women discharged under that policy (presumably for the Telling, not the Asking). Defense Secretary Cohen, in 1998 after the first 900 discharges, commented, "I think it's working."

In his letter, the former chairman does not refer to his philosophy when he was a War College section leader that stress and discomfort accompany growth -- that one measure of a student's success is the degree to which he gets outside of his box or comfort zone ( see The US Army War College: Military Education in a Democracy).

But don't get the impression that Shalikashvili has broken out of his own comfort zone. His motivation for his public call for a repeal of DADT was simply this

I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job.

even if they are a big ol' queen.

The traditional 10 year anniversary gift is tin or aluminum. Perhaps an armored Humvee will also suffice.

Keep your power dry.

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