You can go back and read Part I here.
*disclaimer* This opinions are mine and mine only. They do not reflect those of the military, anyone else in the military, nor will they impede my decision to be enlisted and be a leader. In fact, a big part of our briefing was that they don’t expect anyone to change their morals or beliefs but the policy is changing and there’s nothing we can do about it. This is one of those times you have to shove your feelings aside and be a professional. So here it goes.
This weekend we received our first piece of training on how the repeal of DADT is going to affect us and how policies are going to change. A few hot button issues with the changes are 1) Barracks. Should gays receive their own barracks or shack up with people of the same gender? 2) Health insurance. Should it be given to their dependents/life partners? 3) Fraternization and sexual harassment policies.
1) There will be NO segregation in the barracks/housing. They will pretty much keep housing situations the way they are. Males with males, females with females. Now obviously if there are any issues like harassment or physical violence, something will change. But that is on a case by case basis and just because someone says “I don’t wanna live a homosexual.” doesn’t mean they can get they’re way. I’m excited about this but am a little scared as well. I know there will be issues, but it’s part of the growing pains. Overall, I think this is the right decision and agree with it 100%.
2) Active Duty service members who have a same sex partner will receive all of the same benefits as a heterosexual Soldier. However, their significant other can not. As it stands right now, there is a a Department of Defense Policy(DoD) that states a marriage is between a man and woman and that is the only way a marriage is recognized. The Defense of Marriage Act is higher than any military policy because that is what regulates our funding. So until the DoMA changes, same sex partners can not receive health insurance, death gratuity, GI bill benefits, etc. If the couple has a child together and the service member has custodial rights, they can receive benefits for their children. I’m mixed on this. I’m sad that their partners can’t receive benefits(yet) but I’m glad at least their children can.
3) Same sex partners CAN receive SGLI(Soldiers Group Life Insurance). SGLI can be given to whomever the service member chooses. They can change this now by updating their emergency form and having their beneficiary changed. They don’t need to be married or have anything official.
We haven’t heard anything about a new fraternization policy yet. I’m sure they’re still working on this one. The only thing I know changed is that sodomy is no longer a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice(UCMJ) as long as it is between two consenting adults.
The thing I really enjoyed about this briefing was that they really drove the fact that they don’t expect people to change their morals/beliefs. But they’re also not going to let anyone out of their contract just because they don’t like the repeal. They still have a contract and an obligation to serve that contract and at this time they have no intentions of letting anyone off that hook. The other thing they really emphasized is that harassment WILL NOT be tolerated. And as I said in Part I, the most important thing (in my opinion) is how leaders handle the changes. It is up to us as leaders, NCOs and Officers alike, to keep morale up, violence/harassment down, and a safe working environment for every Soldier. Sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Period.
I look forward to the changes coming. I’m mostly excited that I get to be a part of such a huge change. I’m going to be here to watch the entire thing unfold. Sure there’s going to be growing pains as they work out the kinks, but I’m in a weird way, part of history. And that makes me giddy like a school girl. I strive to be a great leader. I will encourage my Soldiers to be welcoming, non-judgmental, and to grow with the needs of the Army. I’ve already had a chat with my Soldiers and they know that I expect of them and they know they can come to me with issues. I don’t expect any issues from any of mine but we’ll see! I’ll keep y’all updated as details unfold!