Former Army Captain Speaks Out on DADT in “Stories from the Frontlines”
April 30, 2010
This week, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network launched “Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama” — a new media campaign to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Every weekday as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, a coalition of voices supporting repeal will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law. We ask that you forward and post these personal stories. Today's letter comes from former United States Army Captain Rebecca H. Elliott:
April 30, 2010 Dear Mr. President, I am the mother of two young children, and an Iraq war veteran. I joined up just like my dad – a retired Army officer – and my sister, who currently serves in the Guard. My brother is a reservist and has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Two weeks ago, our family gathered together as he is leaving again for Afghanistan -- his 4th deployment. Even my husband, Jay, served as an officer in the Air Force until 2008. Like my dad, I chose the Army. I reached the rank of Captain and was a platoon leader in the military police. I was there during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I had some of the best NCO's (non-commissioned officers) in the Army who could accomplish any mission. Several members of my platoon received decorations for valor during the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On my last day of active duty, some of my old squad leaders revealed to me that one of my former team leaders was gay. They figured it was safe to tell me, as I was leaving the Army. My first feelings on the matter were, frankly, a little surprised, followed by complete indifference. I was surprised because I had never suspected the soldier of being gay. But then, I never really had any thoughts about her sexual orientation whatsoever. When I reflected on it, it didn't make one bit of difference in how she performed her job or how she related to the other soldiers in the platoon. She had the respect of her squad leaders (fairly conservative men, mind you), who kept her secret and continued working with her side-by-side for years. As an officer, I would have been bound by my position to report such “credible information” that would have led to the discharge of a great NCO. I am glad that I was never placed in the position of having to choose between one of my soldiers and enforcing this terrible law, which I feel is unfair and wrong. Please, Mr. President – at this critical time -- do not allow those serving their country to be forced to choose between good, honorable soldiers, and upholding an unfair law. Please, do not continue to allow gays and lesbians in the service to have to choose between hiding a part of their identity and continuing to serve their country. Please, help Congress repeal “Don't Ask Don't Tell” now. Respectfully, Former Capt. Rebecca H. Elliott Untied States Army
HRC joins with our allies in urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal. The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk. It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993. Standing together, we are building the momentum we need to secure the votes.