“As a former Marine and patriotic American, I am deeply disturbed that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is discouraging young patriots from joining the Military at a time when our country needs their service. I am horrified that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” forces trained and ready troops to choose between serving their country and living openly — a choice I myself would have been faced with, had a landmine not made it for me. I am appalled at the involuntary separation of thousands of skilled service members during a time of war — threatening our country’s military readiness for no good reason. I am also thankful for the acceptance of my unit members, whose support protected me from a similar fate.
“My experiences serving in the military demonstrate that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a solution looking for a problem. Since leaving the military, the opportunities I’ve had to speak with Americans across the country, both gay and straight, have showed time and again that the American people support open service by gay, lesbian and bisexual troops.
“Looking back on my years in the military, I am proud. I’m proud, not only of my service and my sacrifice, but of the way my unit members accepted me. I’m proud, not only of how American culture is becoming more accepting, but of how the American military is evolving, too. Now is the time to revisit this ill-considered law. It is costing us far too much, and purchasing us nothing in return.
“Those who support “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” claim that they do so in the interest of unit cohesion. Well, as a former Marine, I can tell you what it takes to build unit cohesion: trust. It takes trust in your fellow unit members to have your back and do their job. And I can also tell you that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does nothing but undercut that trust, and with it our nation’s security. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” imposes secrecy and undermines unit cohesion, ousting gays and lesbians at the expense of the military readiness of the United States. Allowing gay, lesbian and bisexual service members to serve openly will only improve unit cohesion and in turn our military.
“I strongly urged the members of the subcommittee to rethink this failed policy and I will continue to work to change it.” – Sgt. Eric Alva, openly gay former Marine and the first U.S. soldier to be injured in Iraq, in his Huffington Post essay describing the day he lost his leg and his testimony before Congress yesterday in support of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”