In his national address last week, President Bush reinforced that the United States’ all-volunteer military will remain in the Middle East.
No surprise there, especially not when the address was given on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
But what about the term Bush opted to use – the ‘all-volunteer military’?
This certainly isn’t the case, not when three ready and willing men from Madison, Wisc., were turned down in late August.
The trio was composed entirely of fit and able college graduates. When they approached their local Army recruiting station, they represented all that the military could want in a recruit.
But there was just one catch: these men are homosexuals and were turned away from their nearest recruitment center because of their sexual orientation.
Over the summer, Bush and the U.S. military saw a slight increase in their approval ratings. A Gallup poll from June revealed that 47 percent of Americans believed the situation
in Iraq is “going well,” a nine-percent increase from the previous month.
But the same poll revealed one other interesting number: 51, the percent of Americans who think the war on Iraq is a mistake.
At a time when not nearly enough Americans support our military’s presence overseas, the armed forces shouldn’t be as exclusive in selecting recruits.
Though it hasn’t come into fruition during this war, Americans can’t be certain a draft isn’t in the military’s cards. Bush said last week our military has lost about 3,000 men and women in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East since 2003, when the war began.
And with so few young men and women rushing to their nearest recruitment centers, willing to support Uncle Sam’s cause, the military can’t be overly selective.
One of those rejected Wisconsin-based young men is Tim Smith, who continues to show his devotion to the military through a U.S. Marine Corps logo tattooed on his right bicep. A 24-year-old former Marine, Smith was married when he first enlisted in 2001.
He was discharged last year because he could not maintain the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy about homosexual service people, so he was sent home.
To summarize, the policy states that openly gay and lesbian servicemen and women will be turned away from service unless they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.
Capable men and women in the service are hard to come by, not to mention one with two-plus years of experience like Smith. Upon his discharge, Smith’s commanding general wrote that Smith would be difficult to replace, according to the “New York Times”.
The military needs to finally shed its fears and its traditional approach. It’s 2006. There shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding gay and lesbian military servicepeople.
“People are really blase about the issue,” Smith told the “Times”last month.
Maybe it’s time for that to change.