Story from the Frontline of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell': Major Mike Almy

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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  1. Mark says

    This highlights just how embarrassing DADT is. I can’t believe that US politics still cannot find it in themselves to get over this ridiculous issue. Compared to most other Western nations its embarrassing.

  2. Tone says

    Shame on you Barack, for prioritizing mid-term elections above correcting a glaring injustice to your people. DADT is morally equivalent to apartheid.

  3. jer says

    dadt is NOT the equivalent to apartheid. we have to stop with all the comparisons to race based movements. doing so limits the ability of gay rights participants to think about its movement on its own terms with its own specific rationale, agenda and goals and conversely, it detracts from the historically specific conditions of the civil rights movement. most fascinating to me is that the the gay rights movement centers around the right to marry and the right to serve in the army. on the latter issue, i understand that many minority groups from the chinese to african americans have sought military participation as a way to prove their loyalty, their fitness for citizenship (and all the rights that entails), and their “americanness.” but can we stop and think about what participating in the military really means? it s about war and killing people. is this what gay people are fighting for? without relying on an idealized halcyon image of what being “gay” meant where it was “alternative” or “counter culture,” i think we need to reimagine where we locate “gay” as an identity. rather than thinking about gay in relation to the state (as in getting rights from the state such as through the institutions of marriage and the military), perhaps we need to think of gay in relation to non-state social movements that works for equality, justice, human dignity and peace and the things that, ultimately, is not what the military is about. why do we have to kill people to get equality and respect for ourselves?

  4. g_whiz says

    Part of me says fuck the military and anyone that could so casually dismiss such a valuable asset based on something so arbitrary. The other part of me wants to see people like this who want to continue in this rich tradition be allowed to. Personally though, I don’t think the military deserves people this decent when they’d treat them so shabily.

  5. anon says

    The blip in the drama is how few gays go into law enforcement. It would seem to attract the same sort of people, but more gays go into the military, where they are not technically allowed, than law enforcement, which while unfriendly at least lets them join.

  6. walter says

    I too served in the army well hidden in the closet and served in Vietnam. It is hard and adds to stress to not be able to be who you are. and reguardless of what opponents say had no urge to bed my fellow troopers. we were there as a was not manhunt.There were many others that had the
    same problem and all had to work to keep who we were secret. we were because we felt it was right to serve our country. to keep from going all we would have had to done was state who we were. all the deception leads to emmontional problems

  7. Terry Almy says

    Mike, first I have to commend you on your outstanding service to our country. I too was in the military (Army) in Vietnam 1966-67. The President, Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell, Gen David Peteraus and almost all the sane people agree that DADT has to stop. I wish you all the best and hope you are able to get back to where you really want to be.
    By the way, I will have look you up in our family tree, we are probably relatives.

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