It is a strange thought that before many of our lifetimes, it was a crime to be homosexual. Nowadays Pride marches and being gay are rightly, widely supported by society.
It is estimated that between World War II and 2011, 100,000 men and women were discharged for being gay.
Policy was only brought into the modern age in 2011 when Barack Obama’s administration successfully removed the archaic “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Now there are numerous out and proud members of the forces, and they no longer need to hide aspects of their person away.
One man was so ashamed of his exit that he destroyed all records of his time with the Army, except for one solitary dog tag, married, and had kids.
That tale started in 1955, when Private Donald Hallman was discharged as a “Class II Homosexual” at the age of 21.
Now 82, Hallman is using that dog tag as evidence of his time in the service so that his “undesirable” discharge be upgraded to “honourable.
The only reason the Army can deny these appeals is if aggravating factors were recorded But unfortunately they also can take years to achieve, and that I s a big problem for several of those wronged.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs withholds benefits such as healthcare from anyone discharged dishonourably. Employment opportunities were restricted due to these marks against ex-soldiers names, and with healthcare so expensive these veterans cannot rely on the nation they were prepared to die for’s help.
Department of Defense records do show that 80% of requests are honoured, but with the time taken, health can deteriorate before treatment is available.
Given that calls for change are now so often from the public, hopefully the process can become expedited. But it should not take issues such as health to achieve this. These former soldiers don’t deserve to have a permanent mark in their past which indicates they have anything to be ashamed of.