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Trusting People with My Life

The following was written by an active duty Air Force officer who has recently returned to the States after successive tours of duty overseas.

I am a senior Air Force Medical Corps officer on active duty. I am also a man who is attracted to men. For both these reasons, I have strong feelings about the militaryís "Donít Ask, Donít Tell" policy (DADT).

DADT is supposed to protect morale, promote unit cohesion, and enhance combat readiness. These are important values, especially in wartime.

I donít think DADT protects these core values. In fact, it undermines them.

The three military services currently have at least 65,000 gay and lesbian service members, according to a recent Urban Institute analysis. It doesnít seem to me that morale, unit cohesion, or mission readiness are crumbling as a result.

I personally know many gay and lesbian service members and have treated many in my professional military career. If the core argument of DADT were true, our military would currently be straining to maintain morale, unit cohesion and combat readiness, due to the many gays and lesbians now serving. Thatís not the case.

"Service before Self, Excellence in All We Do, and Integrity First" is the motto of the United States Air Force. My attraction to men doesnít nullify or eclipse this credo, nor does it adversely affect my ability to support morale, unit cohesion, or combat readiness.

Military competence should be the bottom line. Competence, commitment, and reliability are a few of the attributes I assess when looking at morale, cohesion, and combat readiness in a specific situation. When I ask the question "Do I want to go down range with him or her?" the question of sexual orientation is never on my list.

When the bullets start flying, I want to know "Does this person have my back?" Can I trust this person to do their job so I can focus on mine and the safety issues at hand? Are they a good team player? Do they step up when asked? Are they motivated? Can I put my life in their hands?

"Can I put my life in their hands?" That is the bottom line. Down range, in combat, everything else is stripped away, and the sexual orientation of my team members has no bearing on trusting them with my life.

I want to remain in the military. I and others like me want to continue to serve our country. To make that possible, please repeal DADT.

Active Duty Officer

Name Withheld

Due to DADT