Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN

Stories from the Frontlines: Former Air Force Major Mike Almy

“Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama” is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law.  We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.  The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk.  It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993.  By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes!  We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.


April 26, 2010Mike Almy

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

If you end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), I’d re-enlist the day you sign repeal into law.

 

For thirteen years, I served in the United States Air Force where I attained the rank of major before I was discharged under DADT.

 

As the Senate Armed Services Committee considers including repeal in the Defense Authorization bill, we’re very close -- just two or three votes -- to passing repeal in committee. I ask for you to voice your support to put us over the top.

 

I come from a family with a rich legacy of military service.  My father is a West Point graduate who taught chemistry at the Air Force Academy, flew helicopters in Vietnam, and ultimately retired as a senior officer from the Air Force.  One of my uncles retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant from the Marine Corps, with service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.  Another uncle served in the Army in Korea. 

 

Growing up, I didn't really know what civilians did, I just knew I would follow in my father's footsteps and become a military officer.  

 

I joined Air Force ROTC in 1988 and was awarded a scholarship.  I earned my jump wings in 1991.  In 1992, I graduated from ROTC in the top 10% of all graduates nationwide.  In 1993, I went on active duty, just as DADT was becoming a law.

 

Stationed in Oklahoma, I was named officer of the year for my unit of nearly 1,000 people.  Later, I was one of six officers selected from the entire Air force to attend Professional Military Education at Quantico, Virginia.

 

During my career, I deployed to the Middle East four times.  In my last deployment, I led a team of nearly 200 men and women to operate and maintain the systems used to control the air space over Iraq.  We came under daily mortar attacks, one of which struck one of my Airmen and also caused significant damage to our equipment.  Towards the end of this deployment to Iraq, I was named one of the top officers in my career field for the entire Air Force.

 

In the stress of a war zone, the Air Force authorized us to use our work email accounts for “personal or morale purposes” because private email accounts were blocked for security.

 

Shortly after I left Iraq -- during a routine search of my computer files -- someone found that my “morale” was supported by the person I loved -- a man.

 

The email -- our modern day letter home -- was forwarded to my commander.

 

I was relieved of my duties, my security clearance was suspended and part of my pay was terminated.  

 

In my discharge proceeding, several of my former troops wrote character reference letters for me, including one of my squadron commanders. Their letters expressed their respect for me as an officer, their hope to have me back on the job and their shock at how the Air Force was treating me.

 

Approximately a year after I was relieved of my duties, my Wing Commander recommended I be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, even though the Air Force was actively pursuing my discharge.

 

But instead, after 16 months, I was given a police escort off the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security.  The severance pay I received was half of what it would have been had I been separated for any other reason.

 

Despite this treatment, my greatest desire is still to return to active duty as an officer and leader in the United States Air Force, protecting the freedoms of a nation that I love; freedoms that I myself was not allowed to enjoy while serving in the military.  

 

Mr. President, I want to serve.  Please fulfill your promise to repeal DADT and give me that chance.

 

Thank you,

 

Major Mike Almy

United States Air Force 


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21 Comments

Comments for this entry are closed.

Drewd in Colorado on May 10, 2010 at 08.09 am

Thanks for your service, Major!  I don’t get it.  I served in the Army before DADT and my first platoon seargent,  was a lesbian.  She regularly brought her partner to our unit functions and we not once ever made an issue of her sexuality. 

I don’t once recall unit morale affected by her or anyone’s sexuality.  What did count was teamwork and mission accomplishment.

Good luck in your pursuit to return to the military.

Pete Klaus in Washington, DC on April 30, 2010 at 02.44 pm

Mike,

For those of us who know you personally, we’re all so proud of how you’re standing up for what is right and decent.

In addition to your successful military career, your friends know you to be a caring, thoughtful, and good-hearted man.

To know this is how you were treated after all of your years of service to our country, well… let’s just say I think everyone associated with the activation and support of DADT will be highly ashamed when they look back on it years from now.

You’re a hero to those who know you and to many more that don’t… keep your head high and don’t change a thing.

We love and support you just the way you are!

Pete

former Capt Jack Beneville in palm Springs Ca on April 30, 2010 at 01.11 pm

Well done sir.  I’ve sent in my story on my almost 15 years in the USAF.  I too was a AF legacy .  I served in Vietnam not the middles accept for a short stint in 1972’s Yom Kippur War.  It is a shame that we had to be put through the mill.  Jack

Annie on April 29, 2010 at 06.45 pm

Major Almy, thank you for your service and your bravery on all fronts. All of our service men and women deserve to be treated better. I’m glad people like you are willing to stand up for those who are still silenced.

Martin in New York on April 29, 2010 at 10.17 am

My hat is off to you and the rest of the loyal men and women of this country that put their lives on the line for all of us even the bigoted, ignorant, those who discriminate against you.  I find it sad that you are denied what you fight for.  That all men are created equal and entitled to FREEDOM

Chris in Fort Worth, TX on April 29, 2010 at 10.16 am

Major Almy, Thank You for your service for our country and I’m very proud of you.  I was happy to meet you during Lobby Day and share my thoughts about this UN-AMERICAN law. As a former USAF SSGT. with Air Force Communication Service also I served in an Air Traffic control Unit with a gay Chief and a gay Lt.  The sexual orientation of anyone on our team was just such a non-issue. We successfully launched the aircraft that monitored the evacuation of Saigon and Cambodia at the end of the Vietnam war. The mission came first and there was professional respect for one another and there were boundries dealing with people that you just didn’t cross.

Amanda in Vancouver, WA  on April 28, 2010 at 09.27 pm

I never gave DADT much thought. Figured it was harmless. But boy did your letter prove me wrong. (And that doesn’t happen too often with me.)

If anything, we need MORE upstanding officers like yourself serving for our country and far less intolerance.

Julie Marsh in Denver CO  on April 28, 2010 at 07.57 pm

Proud of you, Mike. Honored to have been your ROTC classmate long ago and to still be your friend now.

Steve Naas in Dayton OH on April 28, 2010 at 12.40 pm

Major Almy, thank you for your service for our country.  I attended high school with both yourself and Lt. Col. Fehrenbach.  The military is what allows us as a Americans to enjoy the freedoms we have, whatever our sexual orientation.  Married for 16 years myself, and a father of 3, I struggle to explain how our great country and its leaders can’t find a way to a solution.  Unfortunately, it is all political.  I cannot believe the rhetoric used to justify the ongoing discrimination at work in the armed services.  DADT must be repealed and now.

ad in Midwest on April 27, 2010 at 07.45 pm

MAJ Almy-  I paused at tell of your story to remind myself of all the times I’ve perhaps let my guard down; make friends, send emails, calls on the phone, and tell my partner I love him.  Your story only reinforces my decisions to shield myself from the people I work with so that the chances of being out’ed are minimized, not email any telling information, call from an overseas location, but never will I deny my love of my partner or service to my country.  I will continue to fight the good fight in silence.

Bonnie Daniel (Butler) in Houston Tx on April 27, 2010 at 11.37 am

I want to say this I did CAP and am ranked under CAP as a airman I myself am Bisexual and hate the DADT Policy and I solute you Major Almy for all you have done for the military and may WE finally get justice for everyone who serves and deals with this DADT Policy…

Lawney Baldwin in Tennessee on April 27, 2010 at 07.49 am

Thank you for your service, Major.  I served in the Navy back in 1959. About a third of my company was gay. Our company commander refered to us as “the
limpwrists from hollywood” but none of us was ever discharged.  I have an honorable
discharge after four yrs. that I hold dear.
My son is in Iraq now. He is a 1st Lt. with the Tn. Guard. He doesn’t have any problem with gays in the military.
This whole problem is so American!

Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com on April 27, 2010 at 01.47 am

@ jim hyndman

First, thank you for your service.

Alas, much confusion persists about exactly what CJCS Mullen has said. Yes, he said it was his PERSONAL opinion DADT should end BUT he did NOT say NOW.

He has repeatedly endorsed SECDEF Gates’ “study"allegedly to determine the “impact” of repeal and also that Congress should NOT consider repeal until AFTER it is completed which will not be until at least December 1st…meaning AFTER DEFAUTH has been completed, AFTER midterm elections, and, therefore, by general consensus, TOO LATE for repeal to actually happen for years to come.

ADM Mullen certainly presents a more emotionally credible figure than Gates, but his endorsement of this diabolical timeline along with his repeated assertions that in 42 years in the military he never saw ANY “impact” creates a disturbing, unjustifiable disconnect.

Lee Dorsey in CA on April 26, 2010 at 03.53 pm

Thanking Maj Almy for his service and forwarding this to ALL facebook friends, tweeting and SENDING to local newspaper editor. I hope you all are doing the same!

Randy in Florida on April 26, 2010 at 03.26 pm

When I was 18 I wanted to serve my country (I’m 52 now), but I was so afraid because I knew that I was gay and knew that I probably would be found out. I was brought up to respect my country, president etc.. to be a good citizen and christian. I always thought that I would have made the best marine and go become part of a special unit. But I guess we will never know, will we? I’ve only worked at the same job for 27 years, paid my taxes and abide the laws, but I still do not have the same rights as someone who might have married an american and now is a citizen.

Donna Rosenberg in Arizona on April 26, 2010 at 02.22 pm

I was in the Army reserves for 16 years and 4 active duty. I never had any problems but this was in the 70’s and no one mentioned being gay ever. I wish this nonsense of DADT was over. I was a Master Sarge and received a bronze star and this is very clearly not an issue of whether I am a Lesbian or not. I served and proudly wore the uniform.

jim hyndman on April 26, 2010 at 12.42 pm

All clear thinking American’s are hopeful that the travesty and injustice of DADT is permanently eradicated from our military - never to arise again.
When the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff’a says it is time to end this practice it is difficult to understand why it has not already been been ended.  Bless you for your service and commitment to this country.
Jim Hyndman
Retired USMC

Jim Reynolds in Palm Springs, CA on April 26, 2010 at 12.37 pm

I’m gay and I served 3 years as an officer in the Air Force.  Whether or not I was gay had nothing to do with my performance as an officer.  Stop wasting tax payer money to toss these trained people out of the military. Concentrate on the straight men who terrorize women!

Garrett in Sacramento, CA  on April 26, 2010 at 12.19 pm

What happened to you was all kinds of wrong. Major, thank you for your service. Hopefully, the military will learn not to disregard the valuable services of willing men and women.

Scott Cohen in Philadelphia, PA on April 26, 2010 at 09.48 am

Dear Major Almy. 

Thank you for your courageous service to our nation.  To any thinking American you are a hero not a criminal.  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell justifies reprehensible treatment of our men and women in the armed forces. 

Keep up the good fight.

David Marshall in Columbia, MD on April 26, 2010 at 08.49 am

Maj Almy, Thank you for your service!  I’m sure the vast majority of your countrymen share my appreciation for your sacrifice, and sadness for the ungrateful treatment you have received as a result of DADT.  I pray that rational minds will prevail, that this hateful policy will be repealed.