82 Year-Old Vet Demands His Name Be Cleared After 1955 Dishonorable Discharge For Being Gay [VIDEO]

82 year-old Donald Hallman is among an estimated 114,000 men and women who were booted from the military over their homosexuality between WWII and the end of DADT. Hallman appeared on CNN yesterday to demand that his record be cleared of its “dishonorable” notation. The Dallas Morning News agrees in an editorial published today which supports a bill pending before Congress:

To set things right, gay veterans must apply individually to revise their discharge status. It is time consuming and puts the onus on the veteran to prove that the dishonorable discharge status was wrongfully assigned. Many must hire lawyers at their own expense. The process can take years. Straight veterans with identical service records have faced no such hurdles. According to a recent New York Times report, the Department of Defense upgraded 80 percent of the nearly 500 requests submitted since 2011. Under current military procedures, the Veterans Administration may refuse benefits when a discharge was the result of “aggravating” circumstances – misconduct leading to a general court martial, or when a service member deserts, refuses orders or refuses to wear the uniform. For those veterans whose sexual orientation was the sole reason for the reduced status, the frustration factor must be enormous. They’ve given years of service in support of their country’s military missions, only to be told that it doesn’t count – for reasons that never were the military’s business to begin with.

The pending bill would streamline the name-clearing process and place the burden on the military to prove that a dishonorable discharge was warranted.

  • Todd20036

    Thanks Obama

  • Joe in PA

    Wow, that was in the Dallas Morning News? Times are a changing.

    • unsavedheathen

      Yes, the DMN has gotten very lefty on the gay thing, but remains hard right where it counts… where money is involved. Had this issue concerned the real estate investments of Belo Corporation or funneling city, state and federal dollars into the private pockets of the Dallas Citizens Council or keeping minorities contained in certain areas of the city(preserving their real estate investments), the editorial would have been more along the lines one might expect.

      • Joe in PA

        thanks for the insight.

  • mjcc1987

    Something tells me the republican Congress won’t do anything about it. And waiting for CNN to bring on FRC, NOM, and the Huck’ster (to all fair and balanced) to discuss why this will lead to Armageddon and hurricanes.

    Why doesn’t DoD simply do it themselves? No shit about “regs” those can be changed.

    • BearEyes

      Agreed. You’d think this would be an HR policy type decision rather than an act of congress. Maybe I’m missing something? It’s possible. But you’d think it would be a policy/regulation change.

    • Galvestonian

      …from what I understand there was a huge records fire sometime back in the 70’s or 80’s and many military records were destroyed.

      • David Malone

        Most of those records were from the WW I era and go up into the ’30s, from what I understand. Still… those records that are available should be updated.

        • Galvestonian

          Back in the 80’s when I asked about the reinstatement of the medals that I was awarded and had taken from me What I was told that it ciuldn’t be done because of a ‘fire that destroyed my records’ – this may have been bullshit or I was being diddled or maybe someone was just blowing me off.

          • David Malone

            I guess it depends on which branch of the military you served in. I looked up a record at the VA concerning the NPRC (National Personnel Record Center) fire, which occurred on July 12, 1973. It looks like it effects mostly Army personnel who were discharged between November 1, 1912, and January 1, 1960, and Air Force personnel who were discharged between September 25, 1947 and January 1, 1964. I’m guessing that if you served in the Navy or Marines, you might be OK.

            http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html

          • Galvestonian

            Thanks. I’m going to reapply fot return of my medals. Wish me luck.

          • David Malone

            Good luck on that!

            As for the Dalhlgren, I’d never heard of her. My ship was a west coast ship, so I suspect that I should have. My guess is that she was sent back to the east coast following our involvement in Vietnam. She was decommissioned in the early ’90s. I’m much more familiar with her namesake. 🙂

          • HarleyBobb
          • David Malone

            I went and re-read your first message. See that you served on a destroyer on Westpac. Which destroyer? I was aboard Buchanan (DDG-14) in the late ’70s.

          • Galvestonian

            USS DAHLGREN – DLG -12 – We were the first destroyer to be transferred from Norfolk to WestPac for Vietnam. We were out of Subic. I know we were carrying nukes ’cause I had guard duty once.

  • Bluto

    It’s about motherfucking time.

  • Galvestonian

    I was booted for being gay in 1967 from the Navy while on a destroyer off of the coast of Vietnam doing SAR (sea and air rescue). I had the discharge upgraded to ‘Honorable’ back in 1982-83 and got back my Education Benefits that enabled me to get a Batchelors degree (Penn State ’88) and a Masters Degree (Duquesne Univ. ’90). It’s relatively easy to get the upgrade but the Education Benefits took a huge fight with the VA and the help of the ACLU and my local State Congressional Representative. I wish anyone with a gay themed discharge the best of luck and want to tell them that getting the upgrade was one of the best things I have ever done.

    • GayOldLady

      I’m so glad that you had the courage to stand up for yourself and to serve our country. I’m glad your benefits were restored.

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    • AtticusP

      Thank you for your service. I’m glad that you were able to get that upgrade.

    • b

      Patriot. Excellent.

    • gaymex

      I’m glad you upgraded. It’s a difficult pill to swallow knowing that we helped defend people like Kim Davis and the entire Republican field.
      I made the mistake of having a private talk with a chaplain–“no one will know but you, me and God”–then the brig, psychiatric hospital and discharge. I managed to get a General under Honorable conditions by agreeing that I was basically mentally ill. I am not proud to say that I may have killed people–innocent people. I don’t know because I was out of the area before the bombs detonated. I will live with that grief for the rest of my life. I did the dirty work, they said I was crazy and booted me. I still have nightmares about the poor men, women and children I could have harmed or killed. Every time I see a child’s beautiful innocent face…whew.

      • Tor

        I’m sorry for your experience. I had an uncle and a cousin who experienced horrible battle in Italy and Korea. It affected them for life. We expect our soldiers to do the dirty work, then treat them like shit after.

        • gaymex

          You never get over it. For me the biggest nightmare was the thought of having killed innocent people. Even as a kid I keep seeing all of as the same. I would look at my buddy’s face and couldn’t escape the thought that the enemy also had a face and a family. I would never blindly accept orders now.
          The military is not an easy life during a war and the notion that you should “kill” but not “kiss” is barbaric. Every one of the guys who didn’t receive an honorable discharge should receive one immediately. No questions asked.

          • Joseph Miceli

            First of all…thank you for your service. I have to ask, though…who is serving you? You got booted and from what you wrote you had to have had some PTSD. You are still here, which speaks to your strength. I really hope you had some help along the way.

          • gaymex

            Thanks for your concern. I married a clinical psychologist while I was in college–my professor actually–and we worked through most of the issues. Sadly she was the wrong sex and it just wasn’t going to work. I’m now in my 31st year with the kindest man I ever met, so things are definitely better. I still have problems when I come across child abuse, but I would guess that most people do and it may be the way that I subconsciously atone for any child that I may have hurt while in the military.
            I am so very happy that young gay military men and women today won’t have to face the pain of being called misfits or mentally ill simply for loving the person they love.

    • HadIt

      I am in the middle of trying to get this done. So far it has taken a year and a half of diddling with no end in sight. But I persevere although it will not do me much good as I am at an age where benefits will not be useful to me. This a matter of principle.

      • gaymex

        It is a matter of principle. Keep pushing.

      • Galvestonian

        There was one form that I had to fill out that changed it all. It was a government form ( it’s been so many years now that I cannot remember exactly anynumbers) but the main reason for the form was to ask the question about why you wanted your discharge changed and what was your rreasoning for it. I think that mine had to be the shortest answer in the many that I had reviewed because of the freedom of information act. I replied ” …because it is against current laws and conventions…” and I got it corrected – I had read copies of many other forms (FOI act) and most of them went into pages of reasoning and needs. Just keep it simple – because the law has changed.

      • Joseph Miceli

        Principles are important. You did not “dishonor” your service because of who you love, you suffered an injustice! Keep fighting!

    • Tor

      Congratulations, sir.

    • Joseph Miceli

      This Vet thanks you for your honorable combat service and your service to your country…and justice!…for continuing to fight for yourself. You paved the way for a lot of others. Thank you!

      • Galvestonian

        Thanks Joe…but when I was booted out of the service they took away all of my awards and medals. I never did get them back.

        • gaymex

          That’s really awful Galvestonian. I’m sorry.

        • Joseph Miceli

          They can’t take your honor. Fuck them.

  • MDB

    The Secretary should unilaterally submit these to the President for immediate action. The terrible stain of dishonorable discharge for simply existing, and the denial of lifelong VA benefits to those who have served is insulting and is an affront to decency, honor and human dignity. FIX IT NOW.

    • Wynter Marie Starr

      I agree. Anyone that was discharged dishonorably due to homosexuality, living or dead, should have that changed without them or their family having to do a damn thing.

    • Joseph Miceli

      I have found that…when it comes to budget constraints or “moral disapproval,” the military is sadly lacking in anything resembling honor for all that they prattle on about it. As a Vet, I saw a LOT of 18 and 19 year guys back in the 80’s discharged so that the government could “save” money by not paying pensions. Today, I see the Christians that infiltrated the military throughout the Reagan and Bush years still discriminating against gays.
      Soldiers willing to fight and die for our country deserve better than oppression and discrimination by the people who are honor bound to support them.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    That bill will probably never pass through during the current congress.

  • Here’s the link to the DMN story (not sure if you have to register or be a subscriber to access):

    http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20150909-editorial-time-for-congress-to-erase-less-than-honorable-discharges-for-100000-gay-vets.ece

  • Pollos Hermanos

    I can’t imagine the GOP congress passing anything to help veterans, let alone gay ones.

    On a lighter note:

    https://youtu.be/lad3WunBp0k

    • LonelyLiberal

      He’s adorable, but the poor dear would squeak so as you did him.

      • Five words: Ball gags and ear plugs.

        • LonelyLiberal

          The supersonic frequencies would make your teeth hurt, though.

    • The Larry Mac

      Since YouTube didn’t provide the information, this is from Michael Nesmith’s Elephant Parts; from 1981. It’s a combination of music videos and comedy sketches, and won the first ever Music Video Grammy award – it actually pre-dates MTV.

      • Justin

        Elephant Parts (and its followup Dr. Ducks Super Secret All-Purpose Sauce) are two of my favorite things ever.

        • The Larry Mac

          I’ve got both on VHS, and EP on DVD. I don’t think I ever found Dr. Ducks on disc.

      • David Malone

        Michael Nesmith… the true inventor of the music video! Saw Elephant Parts…excellent flick. I thought I recognized this from somewhere…

  • Octavio

    Damn straight! In no way have any of these men and women discharged for being gay been dishonorable. I’m beyond fucking tired putting up with the asshole mentality of the US military and Congress on this subject. I believe the President has the power to unilaterally wipe the slates clean for all LGBT members of the armed services who have been dishonored by this old bigotry. Hope he does it.

  • LovesIrony

    Ronald and all gay vets. Thank you for your service. I am disgusted with the way you have been treated. Stay strong and fight on, you have my admiration.

    • Joseph Miceli

      I spent four fucking years in the closet, from 85-89. It affected all my later relationships (or lack of!)
      The only good thing about it is that I didn’t catch AIDS. I was so terrified of being kicked out I didn’t have sex of 3 years. This was between the ages of 21 and 25. Talk about HELL!!!

      • gaymex

        I am so sorry that you had that experience. Those years in the closet must have been a real hell for a kid in his early twenties. You were right to fear being booted. I simply had a private conversation with a chaplain and it led to my downfall…the military police picked me up on the way back from the chaplain’s office to my submarine.
        Are relationships still difficult for you or did you manage to work through that?

        • Joseph Miceli

          Still difficult. A lot of factors combined to make me who I am today, but life has its compensations. I will never have a boyfriend or husband, but there is still a lot of happiness to be found out there. On the bright side: at least I don’t have to shove my Lalique figurines to the side to make room for some goofball’s shot glass collection! 🙂

          • gaymex

            lol. shotglass collection. My Lalique stayed with a former partner of 13 years–as did everything. I was glad to just walk out the door and dust myself off and get on with life. I don’t miss much, but I do sometimes think about my Lalique collection. It’s dispersed now and I hope people enjoy it. Beautiful stuff.
            I’m sending a hug your way.

          • Joseph Miceli

            Back at you, Sir!!!!!

  • BobSF_94117

    R e p a r a t i o n s

  • david fairfield

    114,000. Disgraceful. And let’s be clear, they were actively sought out and aggressively humiliated. Horrible.

    • let’s be even more clear; they were actively sought out because Jeebus.

    • gaymex

      Yes, it was terrible. Try getting a decent job with a “queer” discharge. It takes years to recover, if you ever truly do.

  • Ninja0980

    These men and women were willing to fight and die for a country that still treats them as second class citizens in many ways.
    They are far from dishonorable and deserve to have their names cleared and their benefits given to them.

  • LAguy323

    Bernie Sanders stood up for gay soldiers — 16 years before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ended

    http://www.vox.com/2015/9/9/9295867/bernie-sanders-gay-soldiers

  • Bill_Perdue

    Everyone who lost their jobs and benefits before or after DADT should have their records cleared, their benefits restored and get compensation in the amount of $100,000.00 as a minimum.

    • gaymex

      I’ll drink to that.

  • JBBelgium

    these people should claim an amount of money for being so awfully treated regardless the backward views at the time. It’s a shame.

  • Michael Bedwell

    GROAN. Yet another story about Mr. Hallman that, while having the best of intentions, creates/perpetuates multiple myths. 1. He didn’t get a “dishonorable” discharge which would have required a court martial, and almost certainly included prison time. Apparently his “administrative” characterization was “undesirable,” as most were in this period (though, contrary to the popular myth, less-than-honorable discharges began to diminish by 1970, and were almost completely gone after 1981 thanks to the case of Leonard Matlovich).

    2. Contrary to the CNN’s reporter’s assertion, service members were NOT discharged “for homosexuality” “for centuries.” Until 1921 it was for acts not simply “being” gay; either “attempted sodomy” or “sodomy.”

    3. In addition to being dead-in-the-water until the Repugs no longer control at least one house, the bill in Congress, for all the good people behind it, as currently written has no teeth, and, thus, will, likely change nothing even when it passes in the sweet bye ‘n bye.

    4. Most importantly, she and every other reporter covering Mr. Hallman courageously doing this publicly despite identifying as bisexual, and having married a woman and had kids and grandkids, misses the BIG story here. That only 500 of the thousands who did actually get less-than-honorable discharges have applied for upgrades in the last four years is an outrage. That is less than ONE HALF of the gays given an undesirable discharge by the Navy ALONE in EVERY year between 1950 and ’65—in total more than 17,000. This is the age group that most needs access to VA medical care today. WHERE is big-budgeted “Gay, Inc.,” and why aren’t they—in addition to taking bows for helping end DADT—using some of their millions to find and advocate for free for these veterans BEFORE THEY ALL DIE????!!!!

  • NMNative

    Go Donald. Good luck.

  • Lee Anne

    The discharge status needs to be changed and apologies given.