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Darren Manzella Hub



04/19/2007


Services Set for Army Sergeant Darren Manzella

Former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, who died tragically in a car accident on Thursday night, will receive full military honors at his funeral Tuesday. Visiting hours and services have been set for Monday, the Democrat and Chronicle reports:

ManzellaVisiting hours and funeral services have been scheduled for Darren Manzella, a former U.S. Army sergeant who fought against the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The family will welcome visitors from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Morse Funeral Home, 51 Highland Ave. Brocton, Chautauqua County.

Funeral services will begin at 11 am. Tuesday at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church, 12 Central Ave., in Brocton, Chautauqua County. Burial will take place at Portland Evergreen Cemetery.

Full military honors will be provided by the U.S. Army National Guard in conjunction with the local American Legion post.


Gay Former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, a Powerful Voice in the Battle to Repeal 'DADT', Has Died

ManzellaCondolences are pouring in on the Facebook page of former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, who served two tours of duty in Iraq and spoke out against the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. He died in a car accident near Rochester, NY Thursday night.

The Democrat and Chronicle reports:

Cpl. John Helfer of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said the incident began as a two-car crash on the westbound lanes of the highway in Pittsford, when one car sideswiped another car about 8:30 p.m. Helfer did not identify the man killed.

The man (Manzella) stopped his car in the middle lane of I-490, got out and started pushing it from behind, Helfer said. A sport utility vehicle rear-ended the car, pinning the man between the two vehicles.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, Helfer said. The other two involved drivers were taken to Strong Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

Manzella's father said he learned of his son's death online and his calls to police have not been returned.

Manzella was a brave, powerful and important voice in the battle to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", speaking out about his sexuality when it was taboo to do so. It led to his discharge.

SLDN wrote at the time of his discharge:

"The Iraq war veteran was the first openly gay active duty service member to speak with the media while serving inside a war zone....Manzella, 30, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and was twice deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While under fire on the streets of Baghdad, he provided medical care to his fellow soldiers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and civilians. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, and also received several other awards recognizing his courage and service."

Watch Manzella's appearance on 60 Minutes in 2007, AFTER THE JUMP...

Our thoughts go out to Manzella's husband, family, and friends, and we give thanks for his courage and service.

Continue reading "Gay Former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella, a Powerful Voice in the Battle to Repeal 'DADT', Has Died" »


Letter from the Mother of a Soldier Discharged Under DADT

DarrenMom

With the Pentagon’s family survey now in the field, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), will release a letter each day this week from family members and spouses of former service members impacted by DADT. As the Pentagon reaches out to 150,000 straight couples on how their lives are impacted, these letters will share the perspective of those forced to serve under this law alongside their loved ones. SLDN is urging supporters of repeal to call, write, and schedule in-district meetings with both their senators as the defense budget, which contains the repeal amendment, moves to the floor just weeks from now. www.sldn.org/action.

August 24, 2010

Hon. Jeh C. Johnson
General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

General Carter F. Ham
Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe
Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group

Dear General Ham and Mr. Johnson:

My name is Nancy Manzella and I have been a mother for 34 years. My husband and I live in rural Western New York where we have made our home at a grape vineyard and have raised three wonderful sons. We now have beautiful daughters-in-law and grandchildren. We are proud to say that we are the all American family.

Manzella I also was a military mom for six years. Our son, Darren Manzella, served two tours in the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Soldier in the United States Army. He was promoted to sergeant, was a team leader of a medical squad, and conducted more than 100 12-hour patrols in the streets of Baghdad, treating wounds and evacuating casualties of sniper fire and roadside bombs.

Darren was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, honoring him for treating American and Iraqi troops while under fire. He saved lives while putting his own in precarious situations by treating gunshot wounds to blast injuries and more. He was “out there” and our family knew he was in constant danger.

As anyone who is familiar with our military knows, service takes tremendous sacrifices, not only for those who serve, but for their loved ones they leave behind. Our family was always concerned for Darren’s safety, as all military families are for their sons and daughters in uniform. We were also concerned for him because he was openly gay while he served his second tour. We knew that anyone in a war zone was at risk of being harmed at any time, but we also understood that because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Darren was especially vulnerable. He could be fired, forced out of the Army, and potentially face harassment and abuse. The stress was incredible.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” not only affects the gay and lesbian service members’ lives, but also throws their loved ones, friends, and all family members’ lives into a stressful nightmare. We cannot get to them if they need us for support, as they are thousands of miles away. The ban impacts so many lives adversely. It causes unbearable stress on everyone concerned, especially with the constant fear that we may slip up, we might inadvertently “out” them even in a simple letter from home. The “All American Families” who have gay or lesbian service members serving are living with this stress every day.

As parents, this law offends us deeply. It tells us that our gay and lesbian children who are in uniform and putting their lives on the line every day, saving lives, are not good enough to serve their country. The law discriminates against family members, forcing fear and anguish into their lives. Our sons and daughters should be judged on their performance, loyalty to country and bravery, not their sexual orientation.

We need to support all American military families – straight or gay.

Our son was fired under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and I still believe to this day he would willingly serve his country again if this law ended. I can tell this discharge not only affected his military career, but caused him to question his self-worth. Under the law it doesn’t seem to matter how good you are at your job; how many lives you save or people you support; or how patriotic and dedicated you might be. If you happen to be gay or lesbian, this law says you are somehow “less than.”

The Army teaches honor and integrity and holds those values dear. Despite these values, the Army still isn’t allowed to let our gay and lesbian troops live up to that potential because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Under this law, troops are forced to be dishonest, to put integrity to the side, and to live in the closet – with their families closeted beside them – denying who they are.

They need the opportunity to “Be All That They Can Be.”

I am urging you to support the repeal of this unjust law. The values that we gave our kids, and the values the Army told Darren they believe, are really the values we should strive for. But until this law is gone, those values are undermined by unfairness, discrimination and prejudice. I realize that our country is in the midst of great change having to make many crucial decisions. I also understand that the Administration has “a lot on their plate” right now. I’m an American, too, and have many concerns about our country. But, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal cannot and should not be pushed down the road.

Sincerely,

Nancy S. Manzella

CC: U.S. Sen. Carl M. Levin
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Sen. John S. McCain
Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman
Member, Senate Armed Services Committee


Story from the Frontline of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell':
Former Sgt. Darren Manzella

"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). 

Frontline_final02As 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 open letters 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 19, 2010 Manzella2  

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

Dear Mr. President,

It was spring 2004. I had just arrived in Baghdad. We’d been there all but four days. Then it happened. It was an ambush. It ended with my good friend shot dead. I was overwhelmed by emotions of anger and sadness, but also confusion.

At that moment, my perspective on life changed; I wondered, what if I had been killed in action and had never come to terms with who I truly was and, even worse, never had the chance to share it with my loved ones? There comes a point when acceptance is your only salvation—my return from Iraq was my moment.

I served two tours of duty in the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Soldier in the United States Army. I was promoted to sergeant, was a team leader of a medical squad, and conducted over 100 12-hour patrols in the streets of Baghdad, treating wounds and evacuating casualties of sniper fire and roadside bombs. I applied for Officer Candidate School under the recommendation of two generals in my chain of command. But, today, instead of protecting my fellow Americans, I sit working in a university development office because I was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).

When I came out, the first people I told were comrades, with whom I had just spent 12 months in Baghdad. To be honest, I was scared of their rejection more than the mortar and rocket attacks, ambushes, or roadside explosives. But, they showed immense understanding of what I had been going through and offered unconditional support. The response from my brothers and sisters in arms proved that the military is a family—no matter if you are man, woman, black, white, transgender, gay, or straight. What truly matters is whether you can trust the person next to you. And how can trust be built around a lie?

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Story from the Frontline of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell':
Former Sgt. Darren Manzella" »


Iraq Vet Darren Manzella Talks About Coming Out, Military Gay Ban

Manzella

Darren Manzella talks about his tours of Iraq, coming out, and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in this new video interview from CNN.

Says Manzella: "After returning from my first deployment in Iraq, after seeing death and violence, losing friends and comrades, it really made me look over my life...I looked at some issues I had always had trouble with. I had debated, 'Am I gay?'"

You may remember Manzella's interview with 60 Minutes, after which he was discharged under DADT.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Iraq Vet Darren Manzella Talks About Coming Out, Military Gay Ban" »


Army Discharged 11 in January for Being Gay

Manzella

The Army discharged 11 soldiers in January alone under its failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy:

 "Democratic Rep. Jim Moran said he has requested monthly updates from the Pentagon on the impact of the policy until it is repealed. In a statement released on Thursday, Moran said the discharged soldiers included an intelligence collector, a military police officer, four infantry personnel, a health care specialist, a motor-transport operator and a water-treatment specialist. 'How many more good soldiers are we willing to lose due to a bad policy that makes us less safe and secure?' asked Moran, a member of the House panel that oversees military spending."

FreedomtoserveAnd I apologize that this rally slipped by me earlier this week, but tomorrow, on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol at noon, Servicemember's Legal Defense Network is holding a Freedom to Serve rally as part of its Lobby Day.

SLDN writes: "People from all backgrounds - gay, straight, young, old, black, white, Latino, Asian - will come together to raise their voices for equality and call upon Congress and President Obama to take action. Our message will ring loud and clear: The time for repeal is now."

Listen to former Army Sergeant Darren Manzella's message about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the rally tomorrow, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Army Discharged 11 in January for Being Gay" »


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