I was lucky, though. I did not get kicked out, but that does not mean that DADT didn’t affect me. The uncertainty and fear of knowing that anyone with a grudge could end my career, and the sadness in realizing that at any time my country could callously discard me for no other reason than the fact that I was gay, pressured me to give up the career I loved. I chose not to reenlist.
There are days when it is hard for me not to walk into the nearest recruiting station and sign back up. I watch what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and it's hard for me to think about not being there with the men and women I served with in the first Gulf War. I have to remind myself why I chose not to reenlist.
Defending our country in uniform is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities of being an American. Many people do not appreciate that; many take our freedoms for granted; and many do not choose to serve. We cannot afford to lose those who want to serve, who have the necessary skills and work ethic, and who would risk their lives for their comrades and their country.
Mr. President, in your State of the Union Address, you said that the American people are not quitters. I did not quit on my country during the first Gulf War and I would serve again if called. There are at least 66,000 gays and lesbians serving right now who do not want to quit, either. Mr. President, please don’t quit on them. Please do everything in your power to end DADT this year. We are counting on you.
Former Sgt. Shonda Garrison
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
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