By Spc. Paul HolstonMay 23, 2011
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," was written by Thomas Jefferson in the United States Declaration of Independence, ratified on
July 4, 1776.
More than 200 years later, on Dec. 22, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Act, setting the conditions of the repeal for the U.S. military's DADT policy. Sixty days after the president, secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirm to Congress the deciding law requirements, the ruling is planned to be repealed.
As a result, the military is taking a proactive approach and is requiring service members of all branches to participate in the Tier 3 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy repeal training, in order to learn how the repeal of the policy will affect their respective branches.
"For the Army, it is required to use what we call 'face-to-face' training by our chain of command," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, director of strategic effects and communications, United States Forces - Iraq. "From my perspective, 'face-to-face' is the most valuable because it increases the understanding."
The purpose of the training was to inform all military personnel about the repeal and its possible effects on the military, as well as reiterating the already set standards and professionalism throughout the services. "The training clarified all the questions service members had about the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal," said Spc. Clifton Starks, a visual information equipment operator-maintainer with the 206th Broadcast Operations Detachment. "Everyone will have a better understanding of what changes have been made and what policies have remained."
Upon repeal of the DADT policy, sexual orientation, will no longer because for a bar to enlistment, retention, or discharge. "It remains the policy of the Department of Defense to evaluate all Soldiers on the basis of their individual merit, fitness and capability," said Buchanan. "Service members are held to high standards of conduct, which are ultimately enforced through the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
Buchanan said the UCMJ remains the legal foundation of good order and discipline in the Armed Forces. It is the vehicle for enforcement of standards of conduct and existing laws regarding harassment or violence against any service member, for any reason.
The military will not establish facilities, quarters, berthing or practices based on sexual orientation and commanders retain the authority to address concerns on a case-by-case basis. Compliance with professional standards of conduct will be essential to fostering respect among fellow Soldiers and resolving concerns with privacy, said Buchanan. Commanders should use existing tools to deal with misconduct to include counseling, non-judicial punishment and court-martialing, he said.
Also, medical policies are not slated to change due to the repeal of the DADT policy.
As stated in the current policies, there are no Department of Defense sponsored co-location assignments or extended benefits for same-sex dual-military couples. However, service members will be permitted to have their respective partners be able to provide their information as a beneficiary and an emergency contact.
It is the DoD's expectation and our obligation to live by the standards of conduct and our Army core values, said Buchanan.
Although the DADT policy repeal has not been fully implemented in the military yet, service members should be prepared and trained on the changes that will soon come into effect.