Since coming home he's thought about what he and his buddies were doing over there:
Sounds like a good guy who kept his word and sticks by his friends, just the kind of person anyone but the homophobic U.S. military would want for a soldier.
The current moment, when the Army has been forced to raise its age limit and lower its educational standards in order to keep the flow of cannon fodder coming, seems like a good time to campaign for the end of "Don't Ask; Don't Tell." Interestingly, the Clinton-era exclusion policy that was enshrined into law by a cowardly Congress makes it harder for the armed forces to do what they've historically done in time of war: just pretend the queers aren’t there and let them serve as long as the military needed them. Later they got booted.
The late journalist Randy Shilts chronicled this pattern in Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military, published in 1993. During Gulf War I, some particularly over-the-top practices included commanders seeking waivers to allow the inclusion of HIV-positive soldiers in combat units (some of these were the same commanders who had once sought to discharge the same soldiers). Gay Arabic linguists who'd been purged in the previous decade were begged to re-up. "A lesbian [medical] reservist told her commanding officer she was gay and the Air Force demanded she produce a marriage license showing a woman as a spouse to prove it." No, there was no jurisdiction issuing such a thing, then.
Keeping up appearances is harder to pull off now, when gay marriage really is on the national agenda and polls show most citizens see no reason for the military to exclude gays. It may be that the armed forces actually have to police their ranks more rigorously now to keep gays under wraps, since gays have less need of the closet in civilian life.
This is a different time and perhaps I'm a slightly different person. These days, I am overwhelmed with horror about how poorly our government treats its soldiers. They lie to them (as Eric Alva learned), use them up, and throw them away, as many media outlets have been documenting recently in reference to Walter Reed Hospital. They don't even equip them properly for their fights. Along with Iraqis, U.S. soldiers are victims of this war whose only beneficiaries are neocon politicians, the profiteers and the oil companies.
But I still don't see why getting into the Army is a first tier gay issue.
(H/t America Blog for the picture with caption.)