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Pentagon Initiates Effort to Reinstate Benefits for LGBTQ+ Veterans Discharged Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

by Sophia Chen
5 comments
Pentagon LGBTQ+ Veterans Initiative

The Pentagon launched an initiative on Wednesday to reach out to ex-military personnel who may have been involuntarily separated from the armed forces and stripped of their benefits due to policies that discriminated against their sexual orientation. The initiative primarily focuses on those who were affected by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.

Instituted in 1994 under the administration of President Bill Clinton and remaining in effect until 2011, DADT allowed service members to serve in the military so long as they did not disclose a non-heterosexual orientation. This policy led to prolonged periods of prejudice, unnecessary stress, forced discharges, and forfeiture of benefits.

According to data from the Department of Defense, DADT and other military policies that prohibited gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer individuals from serving resulted in the forced discharge of at least 32,837 service members since 1980 due to their sexual orientation.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks noted that more than 2,000 of these service members were subjected to general, other than honorable, or undetermined discharge classifications, which likely prevented them from availing themselves of veterans’ benefits. These benefits include home loans, healthcare, tuition assistance under the GI Bill, and eligibility for certain government employment opportunities.

“While we acknowledge that amending these records will not entirely restore the lost dignity of LGBTQ+ veterans who were forcibly removed from service, nor completely mend the emotional scars inflicted, it is another step in rectifying the injustices they have faced,” said Hicks. “This is part of our ongoing commitment to make amends to those who served honorably despite the obstacles they faced.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Pentagon LGBTQ+ Veterans Initiative

What is the Pentagon’s new initiative concerning LGBTQ+ veterans?

The Pentagon has initiated a new effort to reach out to former military personnel who were involuntarily separated from service due to their sexual orientation. The initiative particularly focuses on those affected by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, aiming to amend their service records and reinstate lost benefits.

When was the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in effect?

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was enacted in 1994 under the administration of President Bill Clinton and remained in force until 2011. During this period, service members could serve so long as they did not disclose a non-heterosexual orientation.

How many service members were affected by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and similar policies?

According to Department of Defense data, at least 32,837 service members were forcibly discharged from the military due to their sexual orientation since 1980. This figure includes those affected by DADT as well as other discriminatory military policies.

What kinds of benefits were LGBTQ+ veterans denied?

More than 2,000 of the service members discharged due to their sexual orientation received general, other than honorable, or undetermined discharge classifications. This likely restricted their access to veterans’ benefits, including home loans, healthcare, tuition assistance under the GI Bill, and eligibility for certain government jobs.

What does Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks say about the initiative?

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks acknowledges that while the new initiative cannot fully restore the dignity or heal the emotional wounds of LGBTQ+ veterans, it is a step toward rectifying the injustices they have faced. She emphasized that it is part of the Pentagon’s ongoing commitment to make amends to those who served honorably.

More about Pentagon LGBTQ+ Veterans Initiative

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5 comments

HumanRightsActivist September 21, 2023 - 5:45 am

This is good but not enough. Correcting records is one thing, but what about the mental and emotional toll? They owe them more than just benefits.

Reply
FinanceGuy September 21, 2023 - 10:11 am

Does anyone know how this is gonna be funded? I mean, its a step in the right direction, but where’s the money coming from?

Reply
Vet4Life September 21, 2023 - 8:00 pm

as a vet myself, this hits close to home. Glad they’re finally doing something, even if it can’t make everything right.

Reply
Mike_J September 22, 2023 - 1:40 am

Wow, its about time! Can’t believe DADT lasted till 2011. Better late than never I guess.

Reply
SarahT September 22, 2023 - 2:39 am

Seriously, why did it take so long to fix this? People have lost years worth of benefits. But kudos to Pentagon for finally stepping up.

Reply

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