Exactly thirty years ago this Friday, I raised my right hand and was commissioned as an Army officer, as part of West Point’s first class to include women. We made history that day, after a long four-year struggle that we shared with our male classmates.
Before women were admitted to the service academies, many argued that it would weaken our military, that it would create insoluble disciplinary problems and destroy the academies. In the years since, as we’ve seen more and more women lead troops, fly jets, command ships, and yes, fight and die on the battlefield, no one can argue that our force is not stronger for our service.
Thursday we have an opportunity to see history made again. But this time, we will not have to wait to hear the success stories, the stories of courage and leadership from those who have been given the opportunity to serve… because gays and lesbians have already served and are serving.
My friend Joe, Honor Grad at Infantry School; Becky, first woman to command a Special Ops Signal company; Jon with three Bronze Stars… I, myself, commanded a Military Intelligence company in Germany. My first sergeant and my training sergeant knew I was gay: it didn’t matter to them. And to the vast majority of professional Soldiers, it won’t matter when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed – except that they will no longer have to waste their time with time-consuming and expensive investigations. They will no longer have to waste their time training someone new because an experienced gay Soldier quit.
The DADT stories we hear tend to be about harassment and persecution – but that overlooks the vast number of stories of people like me, accepted by the fellow Soldiers who knew us, successful in our work – but unwilling, at the end of the day, to sacrifice our families because of a stupid law.
Enough. Call your Senator or Representative today – one last time – and let’s make history again.
Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton is a 1980 West Point graduate and a Founding Board member of Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point grads and their allies. She served five years as an Army officer, leaving at the rank of Captain.
05-25-10 By Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, former Army Capt. and West Point graduate |