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'Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Discharge'

You knew that these numbers would change as the available warm body count dropped. My question is, what actually results in a discharge under wartime circumstances? (US Newswire):

653 service members were discharged in Fiscal Year 2004 under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” not counting the Coast Guard, according to Department of Defense figures released today. This represents the fourth straight year “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges have fallen, a fifteen percent drop since FY 2003 and a forty-seven percent drop since the start of the Global War on Terror.

“The continued drop in ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharges at a time of war clearly shows that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a law we don’t need,” said Kathi Westcott, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Senior Counsel for Law and Policy. “These numbers clearly show that military commanders value good service members during a time of war, whether the service members are gay or straight.”

According to the Department of Defense, three hundred twenty- five Army soldiers, ninety-two Airmen, fifty-nine Marines and one hundred seventy-seven sailors were discharged in FY 2004. Numbers for the Coast Guard were not released by the Department of Defense. These numbers represent the lowest annual “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharges since 1994 and the second lowest number of discharges in the last twenty years.

Despite this year’s historic low, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” continues to weaken U.S. military readiness by forcing out service members with critical skills. Recently released Department of Defense information found that at least 20 Arabic linguists have been discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the past five years. Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), a leading opponent of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the House of Representatives stated “Even one discharge of an able-bodied service member under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during a time of war is one too many. At a time when reservists’ tours of duty have been extended and thousands of former service members have been involuntarily recalled, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is stretching our troops to the breaking point. The Department of Defense should be focused on winning the war on terror, not advancing an agenda of discrimination.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding