- July 15, 2015
Today, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) re-introduced the Restore Honor To Service Members Act - legislation that would ensure that veterans who were discharged from the military for no other reason than their sexual orientation can receive a timely review of their discharge characterization and, where appropriate, have their discharge characterization upgraded to “honorable.”
From World War II until the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” an estimated 114,000 service members were discharged from the armed forces because of their sexual orientation. Many received punitive discharge characterizations that can significantly impact a veteran. For example, many employers will only consider veterans for employment who received an honorable discharge. And veterans who receive less than an honorable discharge are excluded from receiving health and other benefits that the federal government provides to honorably discharged veterans, as well as recognitions and honors, such as burial rights.
In addition to ensuring these veterans receive a timely review of their discharge characterization, the legislation would also require the removal of any indication of a service member’s sexual orientation from the record. While the Department of Defense now has a review process in place initiated through a policy memorandum, codifying the Restore Honor to Service Members Act will ensure that this process is the law of the land.