Some service members discharged until DADT will finally receive their full separation pay thanks to a class action suit won today by the ACLU. Windy City Times reports:
“There was absolutely no need to subject these service members to a double dose of discrimination by removing them from the armed forces in the first place, and then denying them this small benefit to ease the transition to civilian life,” said Laura Schauer Ives, managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico. “This decision represents a long-delayed justice to these veterans.”
The ACLU’s class action lawsuit represented approximately 181 honorably discharged veterans who had their separation pay cut in half because of the discriminatory policy. The total amount of separation pay withheld from those veterans is approximately $2.4 million. The lead plaintiff in the case is Richard Collins, a former staff sergeant in the Air Force who served for nine years until he was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Collins was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico before being seen by a co-worker exchanging a kiss with his boyfriend in their car while stopped at an intersection off-base.
The settlement covers veterans who served at least six years and is retroactive to November 2004. The statute of limitations prevents payments to those discharged earlier.