Story from the Frontline of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell':
Former Sgt. Tracey L. Cooper-Harris

At that time, as well as other times during my military service, I had seen friends discharged under DADT who were in similar situations. My friends were discharged, while their perpetrators were given a slap on the wrist.

The signal from command was clear: being gay was a far more serious offense in the military than sexually harassing a fellow service member. I ultimately chose what I believed was the best decision for me at the time. I let these men have their way with me in exchange for their silence.

I am not proud of what I did, but I loved my job too much to let it destroy my career before it had even started.

My decision didn’t come without consequences. I was eventually diagnosed with an STD which could potentially lead to cervical cancer later in life.

I, frankly, am still ashamed of what I had to do to stay in the Army. I wasn’t discharged under DADT, but left because of it. I continue to attend counseling sessions provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs for what I went through. The memories still come back to haunt me some 16 years later.

I don't want to see other service members go through what I went through. And unfortunately, this will continue to happen as long as DADT is law.

As long as a recruit or military member meets or exceeds the criteria for military service, let them serve. A bullet doesn’t discriminate because of a person’s race, gender identity, sex, religion, or sexual orientation, so why does the U.S. military continue to do so?

The time to repeal DADT is long overdue. Please, Mr. President, do the right thing.

Respectfully yours,

Former Sgt. Tracey L. Cooper-Harris

United States Army

PREVIOUS LETTERS FROM THE FRONTLINE…

April 27 – Captain Joan Darrah
April 28 – LCpl Danny Hernandez
April 29 – An Active-Duty Military Chaplain
April 30 – Captain Rebecca H. Elliott
May 4 – Former Ssgt Anthony Loverde
May 5 – Former First Lieutenant Laura Slattery
May 6 – Former Staff Sergeant Anthony Moll
May 7 – Clifton Truman Daniel

Comments

  1. jpeckjr says

    Repeal or not, President Obama has the authority to change the way the current law is enforced. Reporting harassment because of one’s suspected sexual orientation should not be used against the reporting servicemember under any circumstances.

  2. tbeth says

    How crazy-making is this system? You take an oath which holds you to the highest standards of honesty and conduct, except that a portion of you just need to (not)tell this one, small, harmless white lie (and twist your entire life around–lie upon lie–to support it). “Orwellian” should describe a new book, not a service-person’s daily reality.

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