A little more than a year ago, a call came in to SLDN's legal hotline. On the other end was Melvin Dwork. 89 years old at the time. A World War II veteran.
You see, Mel needed a new hearing aid and some other medical services, and when he went to the Department of Veterans Affairs to apply, he was denied. The reason? He had been discharged for being gay in 1944, with a the characterization, "undesirable." An American patriot deemed unfit to serve by our military. Mel knew that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was about to be repealed and he wanted to make one last attempt - he had been trying for more than 50 years - to right this decades-old wrong.
At SLDN, we went immediately to work on Mel's case, and last September, just as DADT was being pushed into the dustbin of history, Mel received justice - an honorable discharge retroactive to 1944. This meant that he would be eligible for VA services, and perhaps just as important, a significant measure of dignity would be restored to his service in our military.
On September 18, Mel will join us aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City for a celebration marking the one-year anniversary of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In many ways, this event is for Mel - and for the countless others who served in silence or whose dreams of wearing our nation's uniform were sidelined altogether because they were gay. It's also for all those now serving openly - and all who will in the future - without the fear of losing their careers simply for being who they are.
We need you there with us that night to pay tribute to Mel and to all these brave patriots. Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be there with us, and you will have an opportunity to thank him personally for his leadership. You don't want to miss this historic night.
08-20-12 By David McKean, SLDN Legal Director |