The Biden administration is seeking to restore the honor of thousands of LGBTQ+ service veterans who were kicked out of the military before the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, CBS News reported.
The Defense Department is set to announce a new initiative on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the repeal of the policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military, a senior Pentagon official told CBS News.
The department also will launch a website with resources dedicated to LGBTQ+ veterans who believe they were wrongfully discharged because of their sexuality.
Before the repeal of the ban, LGBTQ+ service members were forced out of the military “under other than honorable conditions,” rather than with an honorable discharge, the outlet reported.
“For decades, our LGBTQ+ Service members were forced to hide or were prevented from serving altogether,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
“Even still, they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way for the good of our country and the American people. Unfortunately, too many of them were discharged from the military based on their sexual orientation — and for many this left them without access to the benefits and services they earned.”
CBS News reported that many LGBTQ+ veterans without an honorable discharge were deprived of access to benefits including Veterans Affairs loan programs, college tuition assistance, health care, and some jobs.
LGBTQ+ veterans seeking an honorable discharge post-ban have found the military’s existing process complicated and emotionally taxing. It also puts the burden on the veteran to prove there was discrimination.
The DOD’s new initiative will mean veterans won’t have to apply for an upgrade themselves, CBS News reported. The department will review the records of veterans who served under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and could recommend a discharge upgrade.
After completing its initial review of veterans who served during “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military also plans to begin looking at the records of veterans who served before that policy went into place, a Pentagon official told CBS News.
“Over the past decade, we’ve tried to make it easier for Service members discharged based on their sexual orientation to obtain corrective relief,” Austin said in his statement. “While this process can be difficult to navigate, we are working to make it more accessible and efficient.”
Charlie McCarthy ✉
Charlie McCarthy, a writer/editor at Newsmax, has nearly 40 years of experience covering news, sports, and politics.
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