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Letter to the Editor



James P. Donovan HMC USN Ret.
President, American Veterans For Equal Rights

Within the last year or so the U.S. Military has begun to recruit convicted felons to fill the quotas of active duty servicemembers. Our military has always claimed to enlist only the best the country has to offer in her defense. One need only to remember some of these great contributors both to the military and to society at large: John Paul Jones, father of the Navy; Lt. Tom Dooley M.C, hero of Laos; Walter Reed, USA, one of the developers of the treatment of Yellow Fever; Admiral Grace Hopkins, inventor of the COBAL language for computers. And the list goes on. Add to this the many unsung heroes that most of us know. The Soldier who puts himself between a grenade and his men. The hospital corpsman who risks his life caring for his wounded Marine. The helicopter pilot who flies into danger to evacuate her troops.

These are servicemembers of the highest caliber who daily demonstrate their dedication to our country and respect for her laws.

Now, it seems, all this is not necessary. Our country’s Armed Forces are actively recruiting convicted felons with which to fill its ranks. Quotas apparently can not be met by continuing to hold to the traditional high standards of military members our country has always enjoyed. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have now relaxed standards of qualification to include such people who, until recently, wouldn’t get past the recruiter’s desk.

There is no lack of qualified people who are clamoring to join the Military but are forbidden by law, viz., Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people. Yes, your military who has wasted millions of dollars in training and processing is bound to fire thousands of highly trained, valued members of the Armed Forces simply because of an unfair, bigoted law which should never have been passed. Yet, the JCS permits convicted felons to serve over GLB members. What kind of statement does this make? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell must be repealed for the good of our military and for the good of our country. Gay, lesbian and bisexual persons must be permitted to serve openly so the U.S. Armed Forces need not rely on less than the best.

James P. Donovan HMC USN Ret.
President, American Veterans For Equal Rights, Inc.

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