Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Army Welcomes Felons and Drop-Outs, Anyone But Homosexuals

Glancing at the New York Times today, an infuriating article caught my eye. "Army Giving More Waivers in Recruiting", read the headline. It should be well known to anyone that our armed forces are stretched thin with all the international operations we are supporting, with the National Guard having to be deployed overseas, and with active duty members being asked to extend and repeat tours of duty beyond what anyone ever expected. So the Army is going to lengths to staff up, and as this article tells, it is going to new lows, too. Age and weight requirements have been relaxed, minimum scores on aptitude tests lowered, and even high-school drop-outs are being recruited. In the past, a criminal record was a disqualification for military service, but last year, the DoD granted waivers to accept over 8,000 recruits with criminal records, including nearly 900 felons. So it seems the military's "unit cohesion" can tolerate thieves and felons in its midst, but just not any homosexuals. It's hard to imagine what could better underscore the sheer stupidity of the ban on gays in the military. Highly talented, motivated, and decorated servicemembers are being pointlessly discharged for being homosexual, and criminals recruited to replace them.

It's high time Congress came around to the conclusion of former Joint Chiefs Chairman John Shalikashvili, who once supported the ban, but last month publicly declared that it's time to reconsider. As he sees and says plainly, "we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job." Too bad even some of our supposed friends like Hillary Clinton (who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee) aren't doing anything about this. Fortunately, at least 123 House members have signed on to the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would do away with this senseless ban.

4 comments:

Eric said...

I'm a bit late to this, but General Pace's recent unfortunate remarks reminded me that I should probably comment here ...

Having been a cadet in JROTC and ROTC in the late 80s, and an active duty service memeber during the institution of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in 94, I'm able to attest to at least some of the "fear" that existed in the ranks at that time. I served in a support role, and can only guess that it was probably worse and more blatant in the front line combat units. However, I recently read that upwords of 70% of surveyed service members would disagree with the general and are comfortable serving with gays and lesbians (unfortunately, I no longer have the reference). Some of December's Zogby poll results, published in a Stars and Stripes article would seem to put that figure on the optimistic side, though.

I do take comfort in the fact that, at least in the past, the military has been out in front on integration issues, and hope that the Pace controversy might be a catalyst for change.

Eric said...

This also takes me back to a time when I was in high school JROTC and our enlisted instructor, MSgt. Ray Valdez, was relating to a few of us his positive experiences serving with gays in the Air Force (he said he'd serve with anyone else willing to die for their country).

Eric said...

Whoops. Hit the 'publish' button too soon! Please merge with my last post, if possible.

Another cadet asked MSgt. Valdez how he could have served for any length of time with other gays, when clearly it was a disqualifying factor and grounds for discharge. MSgt. Valdez responded that the question that was asked during the initial enlistment process was, "Do you have a problem with homosexuality?" The obvious (and truthful!) answer was, "No, I don't have a problem with it!"

wzgriffith said...

As an acitive duty U.S. Marine, I know and understand one thing; when the (pardon the language) shit hits the fan, whatever problems you have with someone personally, dissapear. Exactly the reason this whole homophobic nature of the military needs to dissapear. In my eyes, and the eyes of many of my fellow Marines, no matter what orientation, you can still pull me out of a burning vehicle, pull a trigger, or jump on a gernade.