Military Fired Gay Mission – Critical Troops in 2009, New Data Show
Specialists Continue to Hemorrhage Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
(Note: Page 12 of the full report on the costs on DADT has been corrected. The previous version contains a typo which reads “$567 billion.” The correct amount is $567 million.)
SANTA BARBARA, CA – The military continued to fire mission-critical specialists for being gay in fiscal year 2009, according to new data released today. The data show that gay discharges included 8 linguists, 20 infantrymen, 16 medical aides, 7 combat engineers, 6 missile artillery operating crew members, and one member of the Special Forces, among others.
According to Aaron Belkin, “These data show, yet again, that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ undermines national security. Why are we firing linguists and infantrymen in the middle of two wars?” Belkin is Director of the Palm Center, the research institute at the University of California that released the data today. A sample of the new data is here. The complete set is here.
The data confirm a long-term trend, and a 2005 Government Accountability Report found that the military fired 757 mission-critical specialists, including 322 linguists, in the first decade of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” JD Smith, co-Director of OutServe, said that today’s news shows how “don’t ask, don’t tell” jeopardizes the safety of the troops. “These discharges put our lives at risk,” Smith said. “As leadership continues to fire gay service members in critical career fields, it is the troops on the ground who will pay with their personal safety.” OutServe is the first-ever organization made up exclusively of currently-serving gay and lesbian troops. It now includes more than 500 members.
The new data were collected by the Defense Manpower Data Center and made available by the House Armed Services Committee. They were submitted to the Committee in compliance with current law which requires each of the services to disclose on an annual basis the number of service members who have left the service, why they left and what jobs they performed.
“The next few weeks will determine the future of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell'” stated Christopher Neff, Palm Center Deputy Director. “After 13,500 discharges, hundreds of millions of dollars and 17 years, it all comes down to the Senate.” The Senate is expected to address the policy shortly after it reconvenes from the August recess on September 13.
The Palm Center also noted that the data showed disproportionate discharges on the basis of race and gender. In the Navy, two officers were discharged in FY 2009 and both were Asian. In the Army, of the five Officers discharged, two were African American, one was Asian and two were white.
Although women comprise only 14% of the Army, lesbians received 48% of the Army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” discharges in FYI 2009. In the Marines, women comprise just 6% of the force, but received 23% of discharges under the policy. The numbers represent a dramatic shift from the previous year, when women received 36% of Army discharges and 18% of Marine Corps discharges. In the Air Force, women comprise 20% of the service but received 51% of “don’t ask, don’t tell” discharges in FY 2009. Women comprise 14% of the Navy but received 27% of the discharges last year.
Related: Study details the full costs of DADT.