Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Honor Every Veteran

In the lead-up to Veterans Day on Monday, November 12th, The Frontlines is running an interesting series on those military veterans who are gay, lesbian & bisexual. So far they have highlighted the service of former Marine Sgt. Brian Fricke and former US Army Major Jeff McGowan. Take a few moments and read about their stories. I look forward to seeing whom else is highlighted in this series as the week progresses.

There is something I'd like to point out: I don't personally know either Fricke or McGowan. For that matter, I also do not know Eric Alva whom I mentioned on the last Gay Patriot's America podcast. I commend these individuals and all the others who have served this country honorably despite having to do so under the disastrous DADT policy. Having been in the military myself, along with growing up an "Army brat" thanks to my Dad's service, even without knowing these guys I can say that the ranks they earned does say something about how good they were. That isn't the penultimate standard as some boneheads regardless of sexuality make their way up through the ranks, but in general it does say something positive about them. Since I'm more familiar with serving as enlisted, I'll speak on that count. Alva was a Marine Staff Sergeant (E-6) while Fricke was a Marine Sergeant (E-5). Many people forget that the US Marine Corps only has 180,000 active duty personnel which is a very small number. This means that enlisted promotions come much slower than in say the 340,000-strong US Navy or the 500,000+ US Army. In order to rise through the ranks a Marine has to be very good at his job and stand-out in performance to his command, making them worthy of filling the few higher slots as they open up. I do not mean to detract from anyone serving, but an E-5 and E-6 in the Marine Corps is something far more special given the difficulty in achieving such rank than the same rank in the Navy. This is not to say that E-5s and E-6s in the Navy are slouches, but that earning their "crows" is just a tad easier than a Marine seeking to gain more stripes. I say that as former Navy myself, having retained a fondness for this branch over all the others. The point of all of this is that the DADT policy is removing good personnel from all branches for the stupidest of reasons whether the individuals are booted out for being gay or just decide to not reenlist because of undue pressure. Alva, Fricke & McGowan may or may not have decided to make the military a 20-year career but odds are that one or two might have but were barred for reasons having nothing to do with their honorable service. I hope that as this gets more attention Congress will come to see what most of our allies have and that sexual orientation isn't a legitimate bar from military service.