Open to Serve

August 26th, 2011

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The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is quickly approaching. On September 20th the repeal and certification process officially is complete and the sexuality that a person is born will no longer be grounds for discharge. As we approach this historic day that marks the end of seventeen years of institutionalized discrimination former and active duty service members are telling their stories of how they made it through and what it was like to endure.

GQ magazine has collected some of these stories and presents them here.

Like the story of Eric Alva, the first American injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When Alva signed up, before "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," he had to lie on his paperwork. "I knew I was lying," he says. "But I loved what I did, I loved my job, and I didn’t want to tell anyone. I said, ‘It’s going to be my secret.’ I knew I was not going to be happy in a way, but I knew this was what I wanted." In 2003 he was deployed to the Middle East, and on March 21 he crossed the border from Kuwait. His unit was part of a huge convoy that stopped outside Basra. Alva got out of his Humvee and went to fetch something from the back of the vehicle. "That’s when I triggered the IED. I was awake, my hearing was sort of gone. My hand was covered in blood and part of my index finger was gone. The chaplain was holding my head and I was telling him I didn’t want to die. I was taken off a helicopter in Kuwait—it was estimated that I was only in Iraq about three hours—and carried into surgery. I woke up later and when I looked down I saw that the right side of my sheet was flat. I cried myself asleep, only to wake up hours later and see that it’s true: My leg is gone."

DADT not only affected the lives of those who risked their lives on the battlefield. It also took a toll on those they loved.

"The relationship lasted for about four years, but I always felt like I was disrespecting him, to have to pretend he didn’t exist when I went to work. When I got deployed, he was there with my family when I left. It kind of sucked—to shake his hand and a little pat on the back and ‘I’ll see you when I see you’ kind of thing. And when you’re getting ready to come back, the spouses were getting classes—here’s how you welcome your Marine back into the family—and my boyfriend didn’t get any of that. I had a really hard time adjusting to being home. We tried to make it work for a year but he was getting more and more paranoid about people finding out about us. It killed me that he felt that way because of me. I don’t think we ever really had a chance, ultimately."

For some DADT became the weapon used by haters.

The harassment grew worse. Of a number of escalating events—Rocha was also force-fed dog food and locked into a shit-filled dog kennel—the most abusive and explicitly homophobic was when he was ordered by his commander to act in a dog-training scenario, repeated over and over so that every dog in the unit could be run through it. "The scenarios were supposed to be relevant to what the dogs or the handlers would experience. Like a domestic dispute, or an armed individual who has been spotted on the base, or someone strapped with explosives. This day he chose that the scenario would be that I would be getting caught giving another service member a blow job and, once the dogs came in, I was supposed to jump up from having been in between this guy’s legs. He would coach as to how exactly he wanted it played out, which was the sickest part of it." Rocha says he had to act this out between half a dozen and a dozen times, about fifteen to twenty minutes each time. As they repeated it, his commander ordered Rocha to make the scenario more extreme. "He wanted me to be very queer and flamboyant. He wanted me to pretend like there was stuff on my face. Loving it so much that each scenario was gayer and more disgusting—the introduction of fake semen, that I would have to wipe my face, or that I would have to make slurping noises. The level of humiliation I experienced that day, that’s when I knew I wasn’t safe in the military."

I highly recommend heading over there and reading more http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/201109/dont-ask-dont-tell-gay-soldiers-military#ixzz1WAXDJMrl

Creative Commons License photo credit: DVIDSHUB

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Blogging

Personal Update

So, It’s been a while since I posted anything on this here blog thing-a-ma-jig, which means that I’ve been pretty active in other things.

Outside of work the one things that takes up most of my time is the game shop, Multiverse Comics & Games. Being a 1/3rd partner in the business for the last few months has certainly been an adventure, as well as a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to many more years with it.

I also just finished with the refinancing on my house. That was sure mind racking experience. At one point I thought I was going to be forced to practically triple the amount of insurance I have on the house. Fortunately that all worked out in the end. all in all I only ended up knocking about $100.00 off my monthly payment but in the long run the lower interest payment will be worth all the trouble. Now if I could just get my school loans consolidated I’d be a happy camper.

I spent most of last week and this weekend fighting my yearly spring cold. Wednesday I drove my office mates nuts with all my coughing, sneezing, and hacking. Thursday I broke down, called in sick, and went to the doctor. He put me on antibiotics. I’m not a big fan of doctors and hospitals, but I figure if the government is going to force me to buy health insurance then I might as well take advantage of the damn thing. Of course when I went to get a physical last August I didn’t expect it to turn into a four month odyssey through the world of blood tests and ultrasounds, just to come out the other side with the knowledge that I need to loose weight. Hell, I could have told them that for less money.

The unusually warm weather we are having this week has me itching to start get things together for this year’s garden. I really want to do one again and I really want to try that raised bed idea that Dad gave me last summer. Downside is, that with all the time I’m spending at the store, I have even less time this year to actually care for a garden. I may have to try conning my step-father into some “sharecropping.” Of course, I still don’t have a garden tiller. Maybe I should have bought one of them instead of a new bookcase. Oh well.

I loaded Windows 8 onto my desktop when the consumer preview was released. I have yet to really make up my mind on it. I did go back to Windows 7 over the weekend, and promptly fried my Ethernet port. At least cards are pretty cheap. I think my biggest issue with Windows 8 right now is that it is so new that very apps have been made that take advantage of the new Metro style start menu. I spent 90% of my time looking at the Windows 7 style desktop as I ran everything from FireFox to Star Wars the Old Republic.

Technical Difficulties

image Just as we were getting back to posting last week, my web host decided it wanted to have technical difficulties. So if you’ve stopped by and only gotten a pretty white load of nothing, that’s the reason. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty happy with my host service, Ipower.

Work, Work, Work…

When WordPress 3.0 went live I immediately went through and updated both Vast Variety and my other blog, Foederati. I should have known better to be honest. There are almost always bugs and holes any new software package no mater who it comes from and what it does. I should have waited a couple of months and let them clean all that up. But no, I didn?t.

Now don?t get me wrong, I?m not unhappy with WordPress or 3.0. In fact I actually greatly enjoy many of the new features that it has. Unfortunately, even after about 5 years of web site design work and a couple of years of blogging, I still have much to learn about security.

Within the last week or so both sites had somehow gotten a malicious script uploaded to them, I believe through a security hole in a plugin. The script would redirect anyone visiting either site to a third party site I have no connection to and would then proceed to run malware on their computer. Fortunately I was able to figure this out pretty quick and remove the attacking code.

Unfortunately however, this has forced me to start from fresh WordPress installations for both sites. I do have almost all of the old posts and content and will be uploading them to both sites over the next few weeks, but it certainly means a lot of extra work. Oh, well, the price one pays for not paying attention to web site security. I am also doing a significant amount of reading, intended of course to correct any security holes I may have on the site.

Post It

I want to apologize for my lack of posting activates lately. Work has been pretty crazy ever since I came back from vacation and I just haven?t had much time to sit down and actually write. I will be back however, starting next week.

A lot has happened recently, from the death of Senator Kennedy, to the special election in Iowa house district 90. I have lots of things to write about. So until Monday, I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend, and I look forward to getting back to writing.

Site Updates

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Word Press 2.8 was released recently and I finally went about the task of upgrading the site. Many of the changes in 2.8 had to deal with how Word Press handles themes, plugins, and widgets and that required a lot of updating in order to get everything to work properly. For a short time yesterday I couldn?t get my links widget to work. =(

Everything seems to be back up and operational now and I?ve also added a few new features to the site.

One new item is the Polling widget that you now see in the first sidebar. Scrolling down further you?ll find Three new RSS feeds, one is the PR Newswire USA feed and the other is the PR Newswire Iowa feed, and I?ve added a feed for The Pajama Pundit, a great political blog with a spectrum of view points. I?ve moved the Amazon MP3 download portal to the 2nd sidebar as well as the ?What am I reading? block.

You will also now find this navigation block at the bottom of the site to make browsing older posts a little easier.

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I?ve also added a new feature to my posts that should make it easier for folks to share them if they like them.

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I hope everyone enjoys the updates and be sure to tell your friends about us.

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