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Stories from the Frontlines: Former Air Force SSgt. David Hall

“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.

May 13, 2010David Hall

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

Dear Mr. President,

It has been almost eight years since I was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Every day another American patriot who volunteered to serve our country is discharged under this unjust law. Now is the time for you to show the leadership expected from our Commander-in-Chief and work with Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. How many more careers will be ruined before we see repeal?

I was fortunate to grow up as an Air Force brat. My dad and stepdad both retired from the Air Force after serving 20 years. It only made sense that I would eventually follow their footsteps and serve as well. I didn’t realize I was gay when I joined the Air Force in March 1996 and never gave any thought to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

There was nothing I enjoyed more than wearing the uniform and was very proud to be serving my country. I did everything right to ensure I had a successful career in the Air Force. I loaded missiles on F-15’s at Langley AFB where I received Airman of the Quarter, Load Crew of the Quarter, and was even handpicked for a no-notice deployment to Kuwait when I was deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Southern Watch. At Elmendorf AFB, I was selected to work at the Weapons Standardization Section where I trained and evaluated load crews on loading bombs and missiles on F-15E aircraft. I was promoted to SSgt on my first try and graduated as a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School.

After reenlisting for another four years I decided to apply for Air Force ROTC and was selected under the Professional Officer Course – Early Release Program. I was discharged from active duty in August 2001 and signed my ROTC contract the next day. One of the proudest moments of my life was when I received my pilot slot. I was so excited; not only was I going to be an officer in the Air Force but I also had the chance to be a pilot. All my hard work was paying off.

But everything changed a few months later. A cadet went to my commanders and told them I was gay and dating a fellow cadet. During the investigation that followed I made no comment to the JAG officer conducting the investigation. I was eventually called into my commander’s office and disenrolled from ROTC in August 2002. I received a piece of paper saying I was no longer fit for military duty due to “homosexual conduct.” You can’t even imagine how that feels. Almost 8 years later, I still remember wearing my flight suit for the last time and handing my ID card to the NCO who was trying not to cry.

Mr. President – I assure you I am fit for military duty and so are the 66,000 lesbian and gay service members currently serving. Please keep your promise and stop discharging patriotic Americans. I did my part; now, sir, please do yours!

Former SSgt. David Hall
United States Air Force


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Michael @ on May 13, 2010 at 01.44 pm

One trusts these letters aren’t actually for the President, except perhaps to try to embarrass him a little bit as they echo language virtually identical to what he’s repeatedly said HIMSELF over the last three years [see below]. The real target is likely moveable middle members of Congress who’ve never paid as much attention to DADT before as HE has.

It’s not that Obama doesn’t “get it,” but that he’s chosen to do exactly what HE criticized 1993 Democrats for doing. In his words from way back in 2007: “rather than embracing
leadership and principle” “they bowed to fear and prejudice.”

For those paying close attention, he began to backtrack in the Spring of 2008, signaling that he was going to put what the Pentagon wanted first, saying they needed to be on board before he’d act. Who knows why? Maybe it’s a trade for their not resisting his scrapping some of their more expensive war toys and/or a smaller troop build up in Afghanistan than they wanted.

Whatever the reason, he’s doing EXACTLY what most foolishly thought he never would — and in the way an article in the “Boston Globe” almost exactly a year to the day before Gates & Mullen first did their bait & switch con to the Senate said he would

— betray his own repeated repeal promises; betray those gay servicemembers he’s so eloquently claimed to care about.

As I recall, David Hall himself was one of those gay vets who met with Obama’s transition team a week before he was sworn in and urged him to 1., not reappoint Gates, and 2., put repeal in last year’s DEFAUTH if a standalone bill wasn’t viable. Of course, he not only reappointed Gates but also surrendered entire control of DADT to him, and is refusing for the second year in a row to support repeal through DEFAUTH.

It’s obvious that appealing to Obama’s heart isn’t going to work; only fear of losing gay votes and dollars would modify HIS behavior.


“[DADT] is antithetical to the values of honor and integrity that our military holds most dear. Patriotic gay and lesbian Americans are now told that they may serve their country only if they hide their true identities. They are forced to live a lie as the price of risking their lives for their country. As president, I will work with Congress and place the weight of my administration behind enactment of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which will make nondiscrimination the official policy of the U.S. military. That work should have started long ago. It will start when I take office. America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. All that is required is leadership.” - Barack Obama Job Application, November 29, 2007.

“[T]hese [discharges of patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who’ve served this country well] underscore the URGENCY of reversing this policy not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR OUR NATIONAL SECURITY.” - Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, June 29, 2009.

“We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country. We should be celebrating their willingness to show such courage and selflessness on behalf of their fellow citizens, especially when we’re fighting two wars. We cannot afford to cut from our ranks people with the critical skills we need to fight any more than we can afford—for our military’s integrity—to force those willing to do so into careers encumbered and compromised by having to live a lie. I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That’s my commitment to you.” - Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, October 11, 2009.

“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.” - Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, January 27, 2010.

Bill on May 13, 2010 at 12.17 pm

The Executive Branch is much less accessible than Congress, so we won’t know if anybody there is reading all these great Stories From The Frontlines, especially in light of the recent poisonous Skelton/Gates-Mullen letters which most certainly have direct Presidential approval.  This surprise Congress/DOD correspondence gives overwhelming cover to political cowards who fear ending DADT in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, under review right now.  I hope the next few weeks prove me wrong, but today how do we lobby a Commander-in-Chief who apparently still does not need David Hall to help defend our Constitution?