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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World War II

War Reenactments

I?ve been called a lot of names over the years and for the most part I tend to ignore them. Today however I was called a Nazi apologist because I was defending the right of someone, in particularly, Richard Iott, to dress up in an German war uniform and run around in a field with a bunch of other folks in German and American World War II uniforms reenacting events of the war. For as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated by World War II. I love reading about it, playing games based on it, and just generally learning every bit I can about the war, especially the Eastern European Theater. I spent many a night playing a World War II miniatures game called Command Decision with a group of folks in town. I never once felt like I was glossing over or even glorifying the horrors that the Nazi?s committed in the holocaust while I was doing it. I certainly can?t ignore those facts I really wouldn?t want to, but I enjoy learning about what it was like for solders on the front lines, and learning about the tactics of the battles, and I especially like taking battles where that were lost and seeing what it would take to turn them into victories and I don?t generally care if that means I?m playing as an American, a German, or some other combatant. It?s solely about learning about the war, one of the greatest turning points in human history.

And that is what reenactments are all about. Reenactments are about reliving moments in time, understanding what it was like to live the life of someone at a particular moment in history. There are hundreds of groups that do so around the country and the world and they cover almost every imaginable era of history, even if they tend to center around particular wars, like the Civil War, World War I, or World War II. Participating in one of these events doesn?t mean you want to gloss over the horrible things that happened or that you even want to ignore them. After the break are some videos from around the net from Reenactment groups.

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