In the waning days of ’09, amidst the flurry of snowflakes and holiday activity, I sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, signed by ninety-five members of Congress, calling for monthly reports detailing the number of soldiers discharged under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.
Although the DADT policy has resulted in the loss of over 13,500 qualified service members and $400 million in taxpayer dollars, specific details regarding those discharged remains hazy. What specialties did the men and women discharged from service possess? How long had they served our country before they were fired? What branch of the service were they a part of?
In an effort to start answering these questions, my colleagues and I have requested that the Defense Department start providing monthly statistics on DADT related discharges across all branches of the military. In contrast to the limited stats the Defense Department is required to disclose once a year, these reports would contain timelier, more detailed information. Data on DADT related dismissals would be compiled and reported every month, including details such as the discharged service member’s job specialty (MOS), time in service, and branch served.
This is not the first time members of Congress have requested information related to the policy. In May 2009, I sent a similar request to the U.S. Army. Apart from providing one month’s worth of data on DADT related dismissals (for January 2009, the last month the policy was implemented under Bush), the Army has declined to respond.
Let’s hope that a new year will bring change to this antiquated policy. Secretary Gates has until January 15 to respond with the reports. I will keep you posted as to the outcome.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.