Guest Blogger

Struggle to Survive: A Career in the Marines

Filed By Guest Blogger | May 26, 2010 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, open letter, President Obama, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, SLDN

Editors' Note: "Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama" is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law. We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration's defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal. The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president's desk. It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993. By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes! We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.


Today's open letter to President Obama is from former Corporal Juan C. Perezortiz. It's after the jump.

May 26, 2010Juan_Perezortiz.JPG

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As an 18-year-old, first generation immigrant from Mexico and a newly sworn in American citizen, military service seemed the best way to repay my fellow citizens for giving my family and me a shot at a better life.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps as an Aircraft Ordnance Man. USMC Boot Camp was physically and mentally challenging, but it didn't compare to the persecution I would encounter later in the Marines.

As a new PFC in an Aircraft Ordnance (AO) Shop in California, I developed a reputation for being a hard worker, always looking for extra duties and opportunities to expand my skills. As a result, my work ethic and excellent evaluations, I was promoted to an E3, a lance corporal. These were my best days in the military. Unfortunately, they were short numbered. With the arrival of a new gunnery sergeant, my career in the Marines soon became a struggle to survive.

The gunnery sergeant enjoyed socializing with the junior Marines in the shop, frequently taking them out drinking and to the strip clubs. I was expected to participate. I tried to be a team player so I would not be singled out. The shop soon became the squadron's "frat pad." Most conversation revolved around girls and hookups, often described by my comrades as "bitches and hoes."

This behavior, beyond being tolerated, was often sponsored and enjoyed by my superiors. "Gunny" usually joined in, bragging about cheating on his wife. This environment was repulsive and contradictory to the core values of the Marine Corps: honor, courage, commitment -- values I tried to live by. I was miserable, but felt powerless to do anything about it.

I still went out drinking with the guys, but tried to avoid going to strip bars or swapping stories about sexual experiences. But then Gunny became suspicious. He told me he suspected I was a "faggot" and that we should see what the rest of the guys thought about it.

Everything changed that day. My evaluation scores began to drop dramatically -- from the 4.9 out of 5 average I had for three years to a 1.0. After obtaining copies of my evaluations, I learned that my direct supervisors' scores had been crossed out and lowered by the gunnery sergeant. I had never failed at anything in life before and I was not going to let anyone tell me I was not a good Marine.

My only way out, I believed, was to transfer out of my unit. At first my requests were repeatedly denied. Eventually though, after numerous letters of recommendations from other military officers, I was transferred.

I was promoted and, when I left my new unit, I had numerous letters of recommendation. The detachment's commanding officer wrote accolades such as, "You are a Marine with exceptional core values... a great asset to the Armed Services" and "You are a Marine of great caliber and will go far in your military career."

Unfortunately, I was required to return to my former training squadron just months before my six year contract was up. I was back under Gunny's command. Those last few months were a living nightmare. I constantly dreaded going to work and was afraid for my physical safety.

With the support of friends, I managed to serve eight years. I love the Marines and, under different command circumstances, I would have continued my service. In three weeks, I'll graduate from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in structural engineering. With the your help and with open service in place at the Pentagon, I'd signup and serve my country again.

Mr. President, thank you for supporting repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I hope that, with your leadership, no other service member will have to go through the persecution I endured in order to serve our country.


Former Corporal Juan C. Perezortiz
United States Marine Corps

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Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 26, 2010 11:18 AM

Yep. When I was outed as trans by an ex room mate who used the issue to distract attention from his second DUI arrest, My overall evals went from 4.0, (the highest was 4.0 at the time) to 1.6 just overnight. I was soon stripped of two pay grades, half a month's pay for three months, all of my benefits and was given an Other Than Honorable discharge. This was in 1991, two years before DADT. As abominable as that policy is, it doesn't come close to what used to happen before it came into being.

Also, Obama is NOT "repealing" anything. He's trying to play both sides by saying it's been repealed but delaying implementation indefinitely. If they don;t have the guts to repeal a policy that fully three quarters and more of the American public want to see gone, do you really expect that the conditions required to implement this "repeal" will ever be met?

Let's also consider the fact that trans people are not included at all and that same sex spouses and partners are specifically excluded. I think you should read the "repeal" before you write letters praising our "fierce advocate". It's a sham for Gay service people and worse for transgendered ones and partners. Wake up.
(former) AMS2 (AW) Horrall, USN.

Thanks for fighting for all of our basic freedoms and fighting for your own right to serve.

Michael @ | May 26, 2010 1:57 PM

Watching the finale of my beloved series "LOST" Sunday night [yes, I'm one of those], lead character "Sawyer" referred to something which, a version of which, I never imagined I'd wake up to Monday morning.

It's called a "long con." Just discovered it was the title of the second season episode containing the flashback that revealed Sawyer's gift for it.

Assume we all know what a "con" is, something intended to gain the CONfidence, the trust, of someone else so you can get from them something they wouldn't give you otherwise, e.g., money for a phony investment.

Obviously, a long con is just one that takes more time than the "short con," often involves several knowing and/or unwitting players, and can have complicated steps. The Robert Redford/Paul Newman classic movie, "The Sting," dramatized one, as well as illustrated a synonym.

Understanding the text in legislation is often difficult, but reading the text of the new bill can give one a headache trying to decipher it.

I submit that such opacity is intententional to help cover that we ARE being conned, a long con because NO action from this bill can actually happen before December, ASSUMING that's when the phony "study" does come out, and there is absolutely NO deadline for ANYTHING EVER happening...INCLUDING the ACTUAL repeal of 654 ["DADT"].

Perhaps a better term would be "open con," if such a term exists...I'd say religion qualifies, too.

In fact, it is an "a priori" religious-like faith with which good men and women [abetted by some gay parasites whose continuing salary depends on total LGBT equality NEVER happening] are relying in supporting this bill. Faith that Obama and Gates can be trusted.

Which brings one back to an earlier metaphor: "Battered Wife Syndrome."

And a famous Bible passage: "Jesus wept."