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Mainstream News Misses Part of the Story

by Monica F. Helms

On December 20th, on the NBC Nightly News, reporter Mark Potter did another one of their extensive stories on troop strength and how the Army has lowered their standards to allow more people a chance to serve.  It showed the Army raised the maximum age to 42, lowered aptitude and physical requirements, gave 8000 troops a "moral waiver" for past criminal conduct and started putting recruiting advertisements on MySpace.com.  General Peter Schoomaker said, "Optimistically, we can add 6000 to 7000 soldiers per year." This is on top of the Marines recently recalling 2500 troops back into service.

I have always looked upon NBC as a reliable news source, but it perplexes me to realize that I can see another part of the story that they have thus far ignored, or cannot seem to see. This country has literally tens of thousands of young, healthy and smart Americans ready to serve, but are not allowed to. Iím talking about gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans who are being turned away from recruiting offices across this country on a daily basis.

Professor Gary J. Gates, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute UCLA School of Law did a study and found that there are 41,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual American who want to serve if they can serve openly. In NBCís story the other night, they stated that the military would like to increase troop strength by 30,000. Seems we already have those people ready to serve, but NBC was not willing to point this out.

Professor Gates also estimated that there are approximately 15,000 to 20,000 gay men and 16,000 lesbians already serving in the military. Since 1993, when Donít Ask, Donít Tell started, we loss over 11,000 GLB people from the military, some in critical jobs, such as Arabic and Farsi translators. We had already spent several million dollars to train those 11,000 people, while NBCís piece mentioned that it would cost us another $1.2 billion dollars for every 10,000 recruits. Is our country made of money?

Finally, a survey released on Monday by Zogby.com at: http://zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1222 shows that 73% of those now serving in the military are okay with serving with someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Over half, 55%, know of a gay or lesbian peer serving in their unit at this time and found out about them by the individual themselves.

NBC and other news services spend a lot time talking to generals and military analysts, but they never ask us everyday Americans on what the government needs to do to increase recruitment. To do this right, the government needs to come into the 21st Century and start thinking outside of the mental box they built around their brains. Our troops are serving along side the British, and their gay, lesbian, bisexual AND transgender troops are serving openly.

The television news services have to start doing what reporters like Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Marrow used to do. They need to start shaking things up a bit by talking about ALL angles of a story, regardless of its subject matter. If they donít, they will be doing our country a major disservice.

This issue is very important to me in a more personal way than my sexual orientation and gender identity. My son just got out of the Marines in early November of this year and was in for four years, served two tours in Iraq. I donít want to see him called back up to go over there again because the military canít understand that sexual orientation no longer matters in this modern military world.

Remember, Barry Goldwater once said, "You donít have to be straight to shoot straight." One of these days, the military will understand this.

(Before she was Monica Helms) Here's Monica receiving her
Dolphins from Captain Percy Beard, April 7, 1974