Guest Blogger

Thank you for helping us end DADT this year

Filed By Guest Blogger | May 25, 2010 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
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 Capt. Beth Schissel. It's after the jump.

May 25, 2010Schissel.jpg

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

Dear Mr. President,

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, I was monitoring the events unfolding in New York City while tending to patients in the Emergency Department at Duke University Medical Center. The leadership of the department was activating our disaster plan to accept as many patients as possible from the New York area. All too quickly, it became evident that there would be no need for our hospital to activate.

I knew that brutal attack would not go unanswered. I knew my leadership and medical skills soon would be needed to care for those who would be sent into harm's way. Naively, I thought that mission needs would trump my being a lesbian, but a few weeks later, I received a notice in the mail. It was signed on September 10th, 2001 by the Secretary of the Air Force. I was discharged.

My military career was over.

I was a proud member of the tenth class of women to graduate from the United States Air Force Academy. I graduated in the top 15 percent of my class and was named Academic All-American/All-American in women's golf. I entered active duty service as an acquisition officer and just three years later, was selected to the commanding general's staff while only a first lieutenant.

With the encouragement of my mentor, the future Air Force Surgeon General, I applied and was accepted to medical school on a military scholarship. Before I left for medical school, I was honored by two retired women general officers - each gave me one of their stars and told me they planned to be there to provide the match to the pair.

While in medical school, I fell in love with my best friend. While most people are thrilled to have found their true love, their soul mate, I agonized over it. That's because my friend, my love, and my soul mate was a woman.

It was the fall semester of my final year of medical school. I was forced to make a life-altering decision. For nearly two years, I had been stalked. My home had been broken into and I had received credible threats to be outed by a civilian with no attachment to the military. I had to take control of the situation for my safety, for my sanity, and to protect my honorable service record.

The hardest call I ever had to make was to my mentor. I was ashamed to have let him down and to have wasted his efforts in molding my career. I felt like I had to apologize for breathing the same air as the rest of the world. I was devastated that I couldn't continue to be part of the air force family who'd raised me and counted on me.

My mentor was gracious and kind. He didn't care that I was a lesbian and considered it a mistake to let me go. He assured me that I would only disappoint him if I didn't use all I'd been given to make a difference in this world.

I have done my best. I have supported two of my step children as they made their way from West Point to Iraq. I have cared for the sick and injured children of my community as they arrive in the emergency department.

But it will never be the same as the best I could have given in uniform. Every day my country is at war, I think about my military family; I am not there for them. Every day, I am reminded that, simply because of who I love, my country has said I'm not good enough to help save the lives of our women and men in uniform.

Mr. President, thank you for helping us end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this year.


Former Capt. Beth Schissel
United States Air Force

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There is no date set for the repeal to begin so your claim that DADT is ending is completely false.
There is a PROMISE to "change" DADT at some unspecified time in the future.
Did you even read the "compromise" ?

DADT cannot be repealed this year though. It will be repealed at some future date, if and only if the Pentagon puts every single regulation in place beforehand, and the Chairman of the JCS and SecDef both certify that.

When it is repealed - if ever - it may instead have a blanket ban on anyone suspected of being gay - and will allow asking.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 25, 2010 11:18 AM

WTF are you talking about? DA,DT isn't being ended. In fact the language allows them to indefinitely delay the implementation of any repeal using the same "justifications" that were used to start the program to begin with. AND it doesn't address Transgendered Americans at all. Nor does it say what it will be replaced with. It's not going to restore my rank, pay or benefits that I spent five years, (fully 10 percent of my life to date), earning, since I got thrown out before the policy came into effect AND I'm one of those ignored transgendered soldiers, (well, airframe mechanic actually). Thank you so much though for telling my "fierce advocate" how very generous he is. Next maybe you'll thank him when I'm ultimately excluded from ENDA legislation as well.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 25, 2010 1:56 PM

For your edification: (the emphasis are all mine)


(1) IN GENERAL.—On March 2, 2010, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum directing the Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of a Repeal of 10 U.S.C. § 654 (section 654 of title 10, United States Code).
(2) OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REVIEW.—The Terms of Reference accompanying the Secretary’s memorandum established the following objectives and scope of the ordered review:
(A) Determine any impacts to military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, recruiting/retention, and family readiness that may result from repeal of the law and recommend any actions that should be taken in light of such impacts.
(B) Determine leadership, guidance, and training on standards of conduct and new policies.
(C) Determine appropriate changes to existing policies and regulations, including but not limited to issues regarding personnel management, leadership and training, facilities, investigations, and benefits.
(D) Recommend appropriate changes (if any) to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
(E) Monitor and evaluate existing legislative proposals to repeal 10 U.S.C. § 654 and proposals that may be introduced in the Congress during the period of the review.
(F) Assure appropriate ways to monitor the workforce climate and military effectiveness that support successful follow-through on implementation.
(G) Evaluate the issues raised in ongoing litigation involving 10 U.S.C. § 654.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by subsection (f) shall take effect only on the date on which
the last of the following occurs:
(1) The Secretary of Defense has received the
report required by the memorandum of the Secretary referred to in subsection (a).
(2) The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:
(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.
(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).
(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

(c) NO IMMEDIATE EFFECT ON CURRENT POLICY.— Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect.

(d) BENEFITS.—Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to
require the furnishing of benefits in violation of section 9 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” and referred to as the “Defense of Marriage Act”).

(e) NO PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION.—Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to create a private cause of action.

(1) TITLE10.—Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), chapter 37 of title 10, 18 United States Code, is amended—
(A) by striking section 654; and (B) in the table of sections at the beginning of such chapter, by striking the item relating to section 654.
(2) CONFORMINGAMENDMENT.—Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), section ARM10802 S.L.C. 571 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 (10 U.S.C. 654 note) is amended by striking subsections (b), (c), and (d).

There you have it. No effective date, this could be deferred forever. No spousal/partner recognition, meaning no benefits for partners. No mention, not one syllable about transgendered service people. Forgive me for not celebrating with you.

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