HRC Blog

Massachusetts Veterans Call on Senator Scott Brown to End DADT

Wow.  I just returned from a great press event hosted by HRC and MassEquality at which three Massachusetts veterans told stories about their service under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and called upon Senator Scott Brown to fulfill his commitment to vote for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before senators leave for the holidays.

Travis Hengen was discharged from the Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 2 under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," ending a nearly 12-year career as an interrogator and counterintelligence agent.  Over the span of his career, Travis grew increasingly frustrated with listening to fellow soldiers discuss their private lives, all the while being forced to keep his own life a total secret. In June 2002, Travis decided to no longer hide his sexual orientation and came out to his commander, triggering a discharge process that lasted for seven months.  Despite the humiliation of being investigated, Travis never regretted his decision to serve or to be honest about himself.  Since his discharge, Travis has graduated from San Diego State University with distinction with a B.A. in International Security and Conflict Resolution.  Travis currently lives with his husband in Boston where he is completing a M.S. degree in Healthcare Emergency Management at Boston University School of Medicine.

Michael Young is a straight supporter of repeal and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served from 2004 through 2007 with 3rd FAST  Company, Security Force Battalion on missions in the U.S. and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  FAST (Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team) is a unique unit responsible for guarding government and military targets around the globe whenever they are threatened. John Affuso enlisted in the Army in 1986 and completed infantry basic training at Fort Benning.  After receiving his commission through the Army ROTC program at Rutgers University, he became a Signal Platoon Leader in the 50th Armored Division of the New Jersey Army National Guard. 

John is an Honor Graduate of the US Army Signal Officer Basic Course at Fort Gordon.  After choosing to not re-enlist, in large part due to DADT, he was honorably discharged from the US Army Reserve in the mid 1990’s, having attained the rank of first lieutenant. Like Senator Brown, John is a graduate of Boston College Law School. When I returned to the office after this event, I was thrilled to see the ABC News report that Senator Brown will support the stand-alone DADT repeal bill. “Sen. Brown accepts the Pentagon’s recommendation to repeal the policy after proper preparations have been completed. If and when a clean repeal bill comes up for a vote, he will support it,” said Brown spokesperson Gail Gitcho. Having been in Massachusetts several times this year working with HRC and MassEquality organizers, it's extremely gratifying to see Senator Brown's most recent statement.  With just days left in the current session of Congress, the time is now to repeal DADT.

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