Saturday, May 28, 2016

This Memorial Day, We Remember Those Who Serve/d, Those Who Couldn’t Serve.



Today, I am remembering my grandfather, born 1887, who received Belgian’s Croix de Guerre, my great grandfather, a Lieutenant in the Coast Guard Navy during the Spanish American War, who received a Congressional Medal of Honor, and my husband, who received a Purple Heart  for his injuries inflicted during operating a helicopter during the Tet Offensive, January 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War.
And those who are currently serving sometimes multiple times in Afghanistan and other countries.

The War Within

But I’m also thinking of the gay and lesbian citizens who were prohibited from serving in the armed forces for seventeen years.  Or those who were disgraced with a discharge before the repeal of  ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in 2011.  To say the least, it wasn’t easy for them even though they can re-enlist.

And what about transgenders?

Where We Stand Now

On May 12, in a Q & A with the U.S. Naval Academy, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said there are military ‘practical issues’ to lifting the ban against transgenders such as grooming, hormone treatment, uniforms, etc.

However, last July he announced plants to lift the prohibition on transgendered troops. Carter called the current regulations “outdated and are causing uncertainity that distract commanders from our core missions.”  It is estimated that up to 15,000 of the roughly 2.2 million active-duty and reserve troops now serving may be transgender people.

First Openly Gay U.S. Secretary of the Army

In some regards, progress in the military is reflected with the appointment of the Army’s first openly gay Secretary, Eric Fanning.  Fanning’s record is impressive:  He was previously appointed Acting Secretary of the Army’s Senior Civilian Assistant and principal adviser on matters related to the management and operation of the Army.

From April 2013 until February 2015, Fanning served as the 24th Under Secretary of the Air Force.  From June 2013 through December, 2013, he was Acting Secretary of the Air Force and from 2009 to 2013, he was Deputy Chief Management Officer in the U.S. Navy. .

On June 1st, Fanning will receive the Paving the Way Award that” honors those in public life who have shown courage and leadership in helping to advance the cause of LGBT rights” during Washington, D.C.’s annual Pride events.

Human Rights Campaign’s President, Chad Griffin called Fanning’s confirmation “historic and a demonstration of continued progress toward fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces.”

We await the change.