They nicknamed me “vapor” — as soon as we hit the ground, I would disappear.
I didn‘t avoid them because I didn‘t like them, I avoided them because I respected them enough to not have to lie and burden them with my secret.
When I arrived in Germany, I sent an email to my First Sergeant to tell him I wanted to speak with my commander about being gay and not wanting to abide by DADT any longer. My commander said I served honorably and they would be there to support me in my transition back to civilian life.
Each one of my past supervisors from the ranks of E7 to E9 wrote character reference letters that requested my retention. My commander and First Sergeant said my character, performance and honorable service was not at question…it was merely a legal matter.
Upon my discharge, I was hired by global contractor KBR to fill a technical position in Iraq and later in Bagram, Afghanistan. I was once again working with the same Airmen I had worked for on active duty, but this time openly gay. No one had a problem.
I continue to work side by side with members of our military – each of them knowing me as a gay man — and it has caused no impact on the mission. My contracting job for the Department of Defense now is the same job I performed when I was in uniform.
Mr. President, we need you to help repeal this law – this year — so that my comrades continue to work in a force that retains the best and brightest based on performance rather than sexual orientation. Our men and women in the military deserve better. Listen to them, and, please, sir, do not turn your back on us.
Former SSgt. Anthony Loverde
United States Air Force