Surprise, surprise: Gays don’t hurt the military

This is about what I expected:

For nearly 17 years, gay and lesbian soldiers of the U.S. military were expected to deny their sexuality under threat of dismissal as part of the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The repeal of the policy on September 20, 2011 stirred controversy, and inspired passionate arguments on both sides of the issue.

Now a year later, the first academic study of the effects of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” has found the repeal has had “no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.”

In fact, military members have become more aware of their surroundings. Now that many of them actually know a gay person, they aren’t so ready to use derogatory language:

An enlisted soldier at a military university told researchers that when DADT was in effect, his unit mates would use degrading, anti-gay language, “almost absent-mindedly and with little consequence,” but that after repeal, he said, “it was kind of a big deal for two weeks,” as soldiers considered what it would mean for their comrades to be openly gay.

The report says the soldier told researchers that after people wrapped their heads around the idea, their consideration changed, “the new attitude seemed to be, ‘now that I know someone who is [gay], I’m talking about a real person. I’m not just using abstract insults [but words] that actually mean something.’”

This reminds me of the strategy of Harvey Milk: Make sure people know they know a gay person and bigotry and anti-gay measures will decrease.

The repeal of DADT has long been portrayed by the GOP as “social experimentation” and other such nonsense, but it was never anything of the sort. It was an exercise in treating our citizens equally in a way which was not merely neutral in the security of the United States but, indeed, in a way which strengthened our nation. The side benefit is that we’ve done away with a good deal of ignorance in the process.

The military war on obesity

Now here’s a war I can support:

The Pentagon spends more than $1 billion a year on medical care relating to weight and obesity. And America’s growing weight problem means finding new troops fit enough to fight has never been more challenging.

Army recruiter Sgt. Laura Peterson says America’s growing waistline is shrinking the pool of those qualified to serve.

“I’ve definitely seen the problem getting worse,” she said. “The population has gotten bigger. They don’t move as much.”

Among 17- to 24-year-olds, 27 percent are too overweight for military service. Over the past 50 years, the number of women considered ineligible due to weight has tripled, and the number of men has doubled, officials say.

Retired Rear Adm. James Barnett has said of obesity, “(It’s) not just a major health issue for our nation; it’s also become a national security issue.”

I was tickled pink when I first heard this story even though it was just a small piece I had caught in passing. Now that I’ve had the chance to read a full article, I’m even happier because of the big name they have involved:

And these days, it’s a battle the military is taking up. Teaming up with more than 300 of his colleagues, Barnett is fighting the war against obesity with a powerful ally: first lady Michelle Obama.

In February, Mrs. Obama announced sweeping changes to improve nutrition standards for 1.5 million troops and 1,100 military dining facilities across the country.

The Army now requires nutrition education as part of its basic training.

Barnett said, “When you talk about nutrition, you talk about healthy bodies, but you also talk about healthy minds. Nutrition affects strong bodies, strong minds. We need both.”

Military officials monitor soldiers to make sure they’re fit enough to fight on a consistent basis. Recruits who can’t keep the weight off may be kicked out of service.

As I’ve said in the past, I don’t inherently support the troops. I just can’t make myself become another mindless, ‘patriotic’ goof who falls for such obvious propaganda. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a certain respect for service members. I recognize that there are many parts of the military that are physically demanding – I respect that. (In fact, I’ve always been interested in the idea of doing basic training merely for the sake of doing it.) I like and value fitness, so when presented with something which has always been associated with high physical rigor, how can I not appreciate it? Well, as it turns out, it’s pretty easy to not appreciate a mass of people who have became masses in their own, individual rights. A billion dollars a year? Come on.

Now excuse me while I actually leave for the gym right now.

Bow! Bow before my particular god!

That’s what the military told one of its soldiers. He said no:

The 20-year old private first class, a proclaimed atheist, is graduating from Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina on Thursday.

The soldier, who requested that CNN not give a name and gender for fear of repercussions, called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on Wednesday after taking part in a rehearsal for the graduation.

The soldier told the watchdog group that during the rehearsal, officials ordered the soldiers to bow their heads and clasp their hands during the chaplain’s benediction. As an atheist, the soldier refused to do so.

The military then threatened to prevent the soldier from graduating. They backed down when they found out he had contacted an outside group for protection of his rights, but who knows how far things would have gone otherwise.

This isn’t a big story because it appears to have been resolved relatively quickly (plus the solider is remaining anonymous), but I wonder how Christians in general would react to this. I imagine a good number would support the solider in principle, but I think a significant portion would be against his actions.

The mayhem!

It has been complete anarchy in the streets now for nearly 24 hours. Millions have been displaced, thousands injured, hundreds dead. The chaos and destruction would be unimaginable if every American family wasn’t feeling the same exact pain right now. How such terror could happen on American soil is insane, something seemingly only meant for science fiction movies until today. What sort of devil would bring such evil upon us all?

The U.S. military passed a historic milestone Tuesday with the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in uniform, ending a prohibition that President Barack Obama said had forced gay and lesbian service members to “lie about who they are.”

I just wish I had built my bunker earlier.

Can I call a bigot a bigot?

Because I’m thinking about writing a letter to the editor in response to this bigot.

In a Dec. 12 column, Richard Connor criticizes Sen. John McCain for opposing repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on homosexuality and writes it “has outlived its usefulness” and that “We need to do away with it.”

To justify his position, Connor writes about “cultural and social changes” and advancing gay marriage. Political correctness run amok.

Social acceptance doesn’t necessarily make something right. Furthermore, a behavior that is socially acceptable in a civilian environment does not necessarily make it right in a military environment.

Can anyone imagine the military maintaining unisex sleeping quarters and unisex bathing facilities with group showers? I cannot.

Similarly, I cannot imagine homosexuals serving openly in the military. A barracks will house 80-plus men and have group bathrooms and showers. As I can’t image a military environment where men and women take group showers because animal instincts may surface, I cannot image the military maintaining group showers where men with a known sexual attraction for men taking group showers with men.

What I write may invite the PC police to charge me with homophobia and intolerance. In my defense, I love the relatives I have who are gay and the gays I know in business.

They know I don’t agree with their lifestyle, but to love someone does not mean you have to agree with them. True love is often tough love and means having to tell those you love the truth.

Failure to practice tough love in our families may have contributed to the growth and social acceptance of homosexuality in society. I don’t believe homosexuality is normal. I believe it is a personal choice from someone who has tasted the proverbial forbidden fruit. Society’s sexual preferences don’t justify overhauling military standards.

Harold Alexander

Augusta

I also find “dolt” to be a fair and accurate label.

Let’s do this one quickly, shall we?

  • Being gay does not mean being obsessed with sex or unable to control sexual desires. Assumptions like that is how we get those horribly bigoted comparisons of gays to pedophiles. And “animal instincts”? How sexually immature is Harold Alexander? While where evolution and taxonomy are concerned I have to agree we absolutely are animals (though I’m not so sure about the instincts part), we have the ability to be rational and critical and thoughtful.
  • Does this guy really think that gay sex in showers is going to be an issue? I don’t really see anyone trying that, much less getting away with it.
  • No, Alexander does not love the gays he knows. If he did, he wouldn’t try to make their lives worse. I’ll grant that he sorta, kinda, maybe loves them. A little.
  • Gays have loving families.
  • No one wakes up and decides one day, “Gee, I think I’m going to start liking people with the same genitalia I have. That will surely make my life better. And probably socially easier…right? Right.”
  • What justifies overhauling military standards is the exhaustive study that found that most service members are fine with the repeal of DADT. And let’s not forget the 13,500 qualified individuals who have been kicked out – only to the detriment of the effectiveness of the U.S. military.

Thought of the day

If anyone was serious about cutting the budget, we would be slashing the funding we give our 20th century-style military.

Pentagon: Gays? Not a problem.

Harry Reid is promising to bring to a vote a repeal on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell soon. The legislation will be contingent on the president and top military commanders certifying that doing so will not harm the effectiveness of the military. And what does an assessment by the Pentagon say about it all?

A draft of the 370-page assessment has found that the ban could be lifted with little harm and that most troops don’t object to the change in personnel policy, according to officials familiar with its findings.

Of course, it isn’t that simple.

But it also found that some troops had serious concerns with repealing the law.

Military officials have warned that even scattered resistance to the change could pose logistical and discipline problems for field commanders.

That is true. But desegregating the military had the same issues. We need to take a pragmatic approach to this. It’s clear that gays ought to have the right to serve the United States of America. No non-bigot doubts that. The question is how doing what’s right will impact our fighting and defending capabilities. The leak of the report indicates that the change in policy isn’t going to be much different from when we finally allowed minorities and whites to fight side by side. The obvious conclusion is that DADT needs to be repealed so that we might better our military with a broader pool of intelligent men and women.