Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Waving the PFLAG for No Ban on Gays"

This morning's Dayton Daily News includes a column by Mary McCarty, who speaks with retired Colonel Dan Tepfer about his work with PFLAG and his appearance, on Friday, at the U.S. Capitol, where he joined other veterans from across the country to rally for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"During his 23 years of active duty service in the Air Force," McCarty writes, Tepfer "rarely gave any thought to gays in the military."

"I wasn't gay or lesbian so it wasn't in my sights," he told the paper, adding that, "I always judged peopl eon how they performed. The hardest challenge was getting good people."

That all changed, however, when the Colonel learned that his own family included lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, and after he became involved with PFLAG, where he currently serves on the national board of directors and is an active member of the Dayton, Ohio chapter.

"He's so committed that his children refer to Tepfer and his wife Nancy as 'Mr. and Mrs. PFLAG,'" McCarty reports.

"What a mind-opener and heart-changer" his family members were in his own journey, Colonel Tepfer recalls. "We became aware of the many ways that gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens are treated unequally, including 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

And on Friday, "Tefper delivered an impassioned speech," she notes, urging Congress to take action and welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to the armed forces."

Indeed, following Friday's speech, Colonel Tepfer has heard from other PFLAG parents, who happen to be veterans, and from at least one openly gay child of a veteran, who reached out to Dan, via Facebook, to thank him for his activism on the issue.

And, as McCarty concludes in her article this morning, all of that, "would make Mr. PFLAG very happy" indeed.

To read the full coverage of Colonel Tepfer's Washington appearance in The Dayton Daily News, click here.

1 comment:

wushock said...

I met Dan Tepfer 42 years ago when we served together at Clark AB in the Philippines. He was a USAF lst Lieutenant and was already a hell of an Officer. I was a USAF 2nd Lieutenant "Mustang" (an Officer with prior enlisted service, in my case in the USMC) and was a loose cannon, not a good thing to be when you were also running courier missions in Vietnam which I was doing. Although I was in no way aware of it at the time, Dan was already looking out for me.

About 23 year later, after no contact since the Philippines, Dan looked out for me once again. He very willingly helped me in filing my claim with the VA for service connected disability benefits stemming from my Vietnam time.

Then once again a few years ago, this time after some communication, he advised me on joining and becoming involved in PFLAG. Very probably needless to say, I couldn't have had a finer example or inspiration. He's truly been a "Brother in Arms" and, especially after this weekend, a Brother in Peace."

"Col Dan," I just wanted the people in PFLAG to know this. I'm sure there are many more stories about you out there just like it. Thanks, my friend.

JOHN HAGLER
LCPL USMC/MAJ USAFR RET