A group of senators are urging the Department of Defense to speed up the correction of military documents for service members who were discharged under “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Mark Udall (Colorado) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today reminding him of the guidance that Discharge Review Boards “should normally grant requests to change the narrative reason for a discharge…[and that] requests to re-characterize the discharge to honorable and/or requests to change reentry codes to an immediately-eligible-to-reenter category” should be granted when the original discharge was based solely on DADT and there “were no aggravating factors in the record, such as misconduct.”
They argued that the current system to amend documents is “protracted and overly burdensome” for veterans.
“We understand that changing discharge paperwork is not a small matter and that in most cases, a careful case-by-case evaluation is warranted. But as long as a former service member’s Narrative Reason for a discharge is ‘Homosexual Conduct,’ ‘Homosexual Act’ or ‘Homosexual Marriage,’ that service member is compelled to be ‘out’ to any future civilian employer and anyone else who sees the document,” the senators wrote. “Likewise, the negative reentry code serves as a barrier to employment opportunities.”
More than 14,000 veterans who were forced to leave the military because of their sexual orientation “still have an unfair stigma hanging over them,” Udall said in announcing the effort.
“Although this harmful and wrongheaded policy has been repealed, it left behind a legacy of injustice that continues to discriminate against the gay and lesbian service members whom were discharged under it,” Lieberman said. “By streamlining the process to correct these service members’ discharge documents, the Department of Defense can ensure that these courageous Americans move forward with dignity in their careers and private lives.”