Garcia, House Dems pressure DOD over discharged LGBTQ+ veterans

U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia. (Photo via Garcia’s Facebook)

U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), joined by U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), wrote a letter last week urging U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to expedite action on assisting LGBTQ service members who were discharged other than honorably under discriminatory policies like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The congressmen, all of whom are gay, are members of the Congressional Equality Caucus, which is chaired by Pocan.

“Advocates and historians have estimated that since World War II until repeal, some 114,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines were discharged because of who they loved — many with less than honorable discharges that endangered future job prospects, home ownership loans, educational opportunities, and health and disability veterans’ benefits,” the letter says.

“Now, the Department of Defense has the responsibility to uplift LGBTQ+ veterans who were previously degraded because of their sexuality.”

The lawmakers’ letter asks Austin to provide information to facilitate implementation of the Department’s decision, last year, to (1) review records for service members who were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” (2) forward cases to their respective secretaries to consider correction through the service boards, and (3) reach out to veterans to make sure they are kept up to speed throughout the process.

Among the information sought from DoD by March 1 is current figures of “applications received to correct the records of individuals charged under DADT or a similar previous policy, total applications relief granted, total applications requests denied, and the respective percentages for granted and denied.”

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