Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stories from Veterans' Lobby Day

Hundreds of veterans from across the country are participating in today’s Veteran’s Lobby Day, sending one clear message to the Congress - "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) needs to go and it needs to go this year! The lobby day precedes the upcoming debate on the National Defense Authorization Act – a bill that should contain DADT repeal language. Many of our very own PFLAG veterans are participating in the event virtually by sharing their stories with their members of Congress through letters, emails and over the phone.

Below, we have shared some of our members’ very personal and deeply emotional stories of how this unjust law impacts their lives and the lives of their family and friends. It is our hope that by amplifying these narratives, Congress will remedy this unjust treatment of our brave lesbian, gay and bisexual service members who may be indiscriminately targeted and fired simply for being themselves. There is something you can do about this unfair treatment by taking action today!

I am an ex sailor from the USS Henderson serving shipside during the Korean War. I was the chief cook and my assistant cook was a humorous sailor who happened to be a gay man. Most everyone on the ship knew there were gay men in all different areas of the Navy and we never experienced any problems.

Not once did any gay sailor act inappropriately, jeopardizing unit cohesion - it just did not happen in all of my time aboard the ship. In fact, having an open and honest unit allowed us to relate and share funny stories, making what could have been an otherwise grueling time on a battle ship stuck at sea a great learning experience. We were good friends and shared stories about our families and laughed about good and bad relationships – straight or gay.

There is no more confined place than on a Navy carrier and the brass that say confined quarters will jeopardize unit cohesion are simply narrow-minded and do not value the professionalism of the U.S. Armed Services. Lesbian, gay and bisexual service members are great Americans and I was proud to serve alongside all of my shipmates – gay and straight – during the Korean War.

Edward Keitzman
Navy Veteran

To read all of the veterans' stories, click here.

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