New Poll Shows Post-9/11 Veterans Overwhelmingly Disagree with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
March 17, 2010
Today, the Vet Voice Foundation released the results of a new poll that demonstrates that post-9/11 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are completely comfortable serving with lesbian and gay service members. The results reinforce the fact that veterans believe that a service member’s sexual orientation is not relevant to his or her ability to serve and that a it does not negatively impact unit cohesion or troop morale. The poll, conducted by the Vet Voice Foundation, is the only known scientific poll that has been conducted solely among members of the military. The scientific methods used in this poll contrast the annual Military Times poll often cited by opponents of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal. The unscientific Military Times poll is based on responses from a self-selected group of subscribers to the Military Times. In a release regarding the poll, the Vet Voice Foundation concluded that “n summary, an overwhelming majority of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are comfortable around gay and lesbian people, believe that being gay or lesbian has no bearing on a service member's ability to perform their duties, and would find it acceptable if gay and lesbian people were allowed to serve openly in the military. Any notion that ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell would disrupt the military or that service members would be unwilling to meet the change is debunked.” The full poll can be found at the Vet Voice Foundation site [pdf]. An overview of the findings provided by the Vet Voice Foundation reveals follows the jump...
- Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe being gay or lesbian has no bearing on a service member's ability to perform their duties. Overall, 60% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans agree with that statement, including 42% who strongly agree. Only 29% disagree. Two-thirds of those veterans under age 35 agree (66%) with that statement, including almost half (47%) who strongly agree. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans over age 35 also agree (57% agree, 40% strongly). Agreement also extends across the branches of service, including 64% of Air Force veterans, 59% of Army and Marines veterans, and 58% of Navy veterans. It is clear from a policy standpoint that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe being gay or lesbian has no bearing on a service member's ability to perform their duties.
- An overwhelming majority of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans say it is personally acceptable to them if gay and lesbian people were allowed to serve openly in the military. Seven in ten (73%) say it is acceptable, including 42% who say it would be acceptable and 31% who would find it acceptable even though they would not like it. Only a quarter (25%) would find it unacceptable. Generational differences exist here as well, but they are not as dramatic as conventional wisdom might indicate. Forty-seven percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans under age 35 find it acceptable and would like the policy change and another 30% find it acceptable and do not like it, for a total of 77% who find it personally acceptable if gay and lesbian people were allowed to serve openly in the military. Seventy percent of veterans over age 35 would find it acceptable and only a quarter would find it unacceptable (26%).
- In total, 81% of those in the Air Force, 78% of those in the Navy, 67% of those in the Army, and 68% of those in the Marines would find it acceptable if gay and lesbian people were allowed to serve openly in the military. Half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from the Navy (54%), half of those from the Air Force (50%), and a plurality of those from the Army (37%) find it acceptable without reservations; and while the Marines are less accepting without reservation (25%), a plurality would find it acceptable but would not like it (43%).
- The notion that today's military members are uncomfortable around gay and lesbian people is unfounded; the data prove it is untrue. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans say they are personally comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians. Seven in ten Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (73%) are personally comfortable, including 37% who are very comfortable. Only a quarter (23%) is uncomfortable, and hardly anyone is very uncomfortable (only 7%). Notably, younger Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are more comfortable overall (80%) and show increased intensity around the issue (41% are very comfortable). Older Iraq and Afghanistan veterans also express comfort (69% overall, 35% very comfortable) but even among older veterans, very few are very uncomfortable in the presence of gay and lesbian people (only 7%). At least seven in ten veterans who served in Iraq of Afghanistan from across the branches say they are comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians: Air Force 78%, Navy 73%, Army 70%, and Marines 69%.