Navy lamely tries to spin Jason Knight's discharge

I guess the honchos in the Navy haven’t heard about the wisdom of keeping a low profile when bad PR is out there. (Stars and Stripes):

The Navy is disputing parts of a sailor’s claim that he was called back to active duty after being discharged a year earlier under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

…In a story first reported by Stars and Stripes on May 6, Knight said he was drummed out of the Navy in 2005 after outing himself to superiors. Knight said an extension he signed had been canceled, a $13,000 signing bonus recouped and that his service was terminated at the end of his original four-year contract, despite his desire to stay in the Navy.

But, Davis said Thursday, “there is absolutely nothing in his service record or on his discharge papers that would indicate he was separated for violating the `don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Nor was there anything in his record that would preclude him from re-entering the military.”

Knight’s original discharge papers (DD-214 ) lists his discharge as honorable with a recall status as RE-1. That indicates he could be recalled to active duty. However, according to SLDN it’s not unusual for a commander to avoid assigning a status that may be perceived negatively on the outside.

“The vast majority of [discharge papers] give the narrative reason as `homosexual conduct,'” said Kathi Westcott, deputy director for law at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in Washington, D.C.

But, “individual commanders sometimes think the servicemember is a good troop, and they don’t want them to begin their next life with a `black mark,'” she said.

Knight says that’s exactly what happened to him. In essence, he said, a shortcut made by the Navy allowed him to return to service. The Navy could not address the issue of Knight’s $13,000 extension bonus, which he says shows a desire to stay on beyond his original four-year contract. Knight said he was granted the bonus, then had to pay it back after his discharge, including having his wages garnished at his next civilian job.

These folks at the Pentagon clinging to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell are pathetic. Spinning and damage control like this will not cover up the fact that they are letting qualified personnel go during a time when it’s hard to recruit people.

In other shocking news, Bush is expected to reappoint General Peter “homosexuality is immoral” Pace to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

* Navy discharges Jason Knight – again 
* Q&A with Jason Knight, the out gay sailor who was recalled to active duty

Hat tip, Noonie.

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