WASHINGTON – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has sent a letter calling upon Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Dr. Clifford Stanley to establish Special Boards that would address issues faced by former service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) and the prior regulatory ban. Since President Obama signed legislation on December 22, 2010 allowing for the repeal of DADT, SLDN has received hundreds of calls from those fired under the law who wish to see their discharge paperwork changed or who wish to apply for re-accession to the armed services. “Creating these Special Boards will be one of the first important steps the Defense Department can take to help former service members who were harmed by the DADT law,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
The overwhelming majority of former service members who have contacted SLDN in the last few weeks are seeking to change their discharge paperwork to remove the remnants of the “Don’t Ask” law, which can subject them to discrimination in civilian life. Many of these same former service members also want to return to the military, either in the positions they were forced to leave or in another capacity of service to their country.
Sarvis went on to say, “Once repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ goes into effect, we expect the military will receive thousands of requests from former service members with questions in one or both of these areas. We propose that the Department of Defense create Special Boards to deal with these issues once repeal becomes effective. Creating these Boards will enable the armed services to determine the proper remedy for each former service member in a fair, uniform, and efficient manner. We are confident Secretary Gates and Dr. Stanley have the authority to take this important step and ensure these Boards are put in place.”
STILL AT RISK: Despite the President signing the bill authorizing repeal of DADT, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until 60 days after certification by President Obama, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen.
ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was established in 1993 when “Don’t Ask” originally passed. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. Last year the organization received its 10,000th call for assistance to its legal hotline.