It was the fall semester of my final year of medical school. I was forced to make a life-altering decision. For nearly two years, I had been stalked. My home had been broken into and I had received credible threats to be outed by a civilian with no attachment to the military. I had to take control of the situation for my safety, for my sanity, and to protect my honorable service record.
The hardest call I ever had to make was to my mentor. I was ashamed to have let him down and to have wasted his efforts in molding my career. I felt like I had to apologize for breathing the same air as the rest of the world. I was devastated that I couldn’t continue to be part of the air force family who’d raised me and counted on me.
My mentor was gracious and kind. He didn’t care that I was a lesbian and considered it a mistake to let me go. He assured me that I would only disappoint him if I didn’t use all I’d been given to make a difference in this world.
I have done my best. I have supported two of my step children as they made their way from West Point to Iraq. I have cared for the sick and injured children of my community as they arrive in the emergency department.
But it will never be the same as the best I could have given in uniform. Every day my country is at war, I think about my military family; I am not there for them. Every day, I am reminded that, simply because of who I love, my country has said I’m not good enough to help save the lives of our women and men in uniform.
Mr. President, thank you for helping us end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.
Former Capt. Beth Schissel
United States Air Force
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
May 10 – Former Sgt. Tracey L. Cooper-Harris
May 11 – Former Petty Officer 2nd Class, U. S. Navy Jason Knight
May 12 – Chief Hospital Corpsman Brian Humbles
May 13 – Former SSgt David Hall
May 14 – A Soldier Returning to Baghdad
May 17 – Former Sgt. Shonda Garrison
May 18 – A Mother in the Closet
May 19 – Former Sgt. Darren Manzella
May 20 – Former Cadet Sara Isaacson
May 21 – A Gay Active Duty Marine
May 24 – Former Lieutenant Junior Grade Jenny Kopfstein