Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.


In addition to comments, I'd love to have guest posts. Please send ideas or full-blown posts to me at gdreeher@maxwell.syr.edu.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Feature Guest Post -- Lingering Questions After Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The following is a guest post from Maria Rainier.  Maria has a background in English, writing, and piano performance, and has worked as a writer, editor, consultant, and piano teacher.  She describes herself as follows:  "Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching online degree programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop."


A president’s signature does not an easy policy make.  Even after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” victory remains incomplete for many victims, including those discharged under the old policy and those would-be ROTC cadets at schools that do not, since Vietnam-era tensions, host the program.  Mixed prospects now loom before the military.
Questions From Those Discharged Under DADT
The same could be said of Richard Collins, who, after 10 years of faithful and excellent service in the Air Force, was discharged under DADT after civilians reported off-base that he kissed his partner.  Unlike regularly discharged troops who receive a severance payment, Collins received only half the $26,000 he was due, thanks to DADT.
“It’s not just about the money,” he told NPR on December 27, “it’s about what’s right.”  Collins is currently part of an ACLU lawsuit attempting to claim the rest of his severance pay.
Still others are suing to claim pay as well, except they are attempting to recover the tuition fees the government shelled out for their education while in the military—until they were discharged under DADT, at which point the military recouped the tuition.
Others wish to re-enlist, as President Obama urged those discharged under DADT to do if they wished.  Those discharged under DADT may sue to regain the retirement benefits after serving 20 years—even if several of those years were spent discharged.  That’s what Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, is trying to do with an unnamed major who, after four years since being discharged from the Air Force, wishes to re-enlist in 2011.
According to NPR, the military remains quiet on how these issues will be handled, as well as how it will treat gays and lesbians with families (which would go against the current Defense of Marriage Act that currently prevents the military from recognizing same-sex spouses).
Questions From Those Who Want to Serve
Meanwhile, since the repeal, other bodies have been pondering rebuilding burned bridges with the military.  According to the Huffington Post, most Ivy League schools did away with ROTC programs during the Vietnam era amidst academic power struggles and boiling political tensions.  In its article, “Colleges Reconsider ROTC after DADT Repeal,” HP examines changing attitudes at Yale and other universities.
Although campuses did not “ban” ROTC (it was more a mutual break-up), the divide between university and military comes from a misconception: “People don’t think students want to serve in the military,” Yale sophomore James Campbell claims.  “We [just] haven’t had the same channels as everyone else.”
This may change since Yale president Richard Levin declared after the repeal of DADT that the faculty would consider reintroducing ROTC onto its campus next semester.  Some members of university faculty, including psychology professor Ewart Thomas at Stanford, think that bringing ROTC courses will do little to alleviate what he sees as the intrinsic discrimination against non-heterosexuals in the military.  Others say that military training has nothing to offer academically to students.  Still others shrug their shoulders—the military doesn’t want brainiacs wielding rifles around, do they?
Lt. Col. Steven Alexander (head of the Army ROTC program at Cornell) claims that civil engineering majors and other critical thinkers may be key in upcoming years.  “The military [right now] is solving all sorts of crazy problems we didn’t think we’d have to solve,” he says, “like building a sewer system or an electrical grid in a third world country.”
Growth in recruitment numbers might not hurt the armed forces, either, since their pocketbooks may be aching after the aforementioned lawsuits.

8 comments:

LisaMJ said...

Interesting post. I worked for the Marine Corp for 5 years as a civilian and I think that if CO's in all branches follow their orders and truly do not tolerate homophobic behavior then there may not be as many problems as people suspect. Generally, in the military when the leadership is behind something and they give orders and mete out appropriate punishment, the troops will get with the program. I'm sure there will be some problems of course, but when you deal with people who have the mentality to jump when a senior service member says "jump," things tend to get done. For instance, although as with any other American institution, there is some racism within the military, overtly racist behavior is not tolerated at all and is generally punished with a swiftness. Actually, in some ways the military has a better track record with racial issues than most other American institutions, so I think that if the protocols on gays in the military is followed in a similar fashion, things will be fine in the long run.

Maria said...

Excellent point LisaMJ. I think you are correct that the hierarchical structure of the military will help deflate the amount of resistance shown. You said it best: "I'm sure there will be some problems of course, but when you deal with people who have the mentality to jump when a senior service member says "jump," things tend to get done."

Anonymous said...

Steven Brint's In an Age of Experts provides an interesting summary of this shift during the 20th century. For the medical profession phd dissertation writing service more specifically, Paul Starr's Social Transformation of American Medicine is insightful (see my earlier reference to that work).

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