Here to Serve All Veterans


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To celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride this month, I thought it would be good to share my Veteran experience. There are over 1 million LGBT Veterans and approximately 68,000 LGBT service members that are currently serving our nation. Many have made significant sacrifices for my freedom. I would like to thank them and let them know we are here to serve all Veterans.

My road to military service and serving Veterans began very early in my life and I am a product of military service. My mother was adopted in Germany by an American soldier after my birth grandmother was placed in a concentration camp where several of my family members were killed. My earliest memories as a child include holding my grandfather’s hand and hearing about his 30 years of Army Air Corps service and leaving my grandmother to go to war. I remember my father leaving on his ship from Pearl Harbor. And I remember my uncle often talking about storming the beaches of Normandy, but with little detail. My father’s PTSD from service in Vietnam plagued my family, causing my mother, brother, and I to have to seek a home in battered women’s shelters as I grew up. Their proud service led me to joining the Army when I was 17 years old, seeking a future bright with education, adventure, and international travel.

After 12 years of Army service, and attaining the rank of Sergeant First Class, I was honorably discharged after a colleague’s wife disclosed my sexual orientation. I felt as if I had tarnished my family’s military service legacy. Losing my retirement and career had a significant effect on me emotionally. Truthfully, I did not have, nor had I prepared for, life outside of the Army, but I was determined to turn the circumstance into an opportunity. I returned to college on the GI Bill to complete my undergraduate and graduate degrees and became a Presidential Management Fellow. I am very proud to now help eliminate Veteran homelessness with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I wish I could have met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I think he and I have the same dream–equality and to be judged on the content of character versus a single inherent characteristic. My continued hope is to simply serve my country and Veterans with equality.

Stacy Vasquez is a U.S. Army Veteran (1991 – 2003) who was discharged honorably under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. She currently serves as the Deputy Director for Homeless Veteran Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Author

Stacy Vasquez

Comments

  1. James Seabolt    

    Hello;
    On my second honorable discharge from the US Navy, I was noted as a homosexual on my DD213 form. I was told this can be taken off of my records for my Naval service. Is this true, and what do I need to do? Thank you, James Seabolt

  2. Dan    

    I have another question regarding how did “a colleague’s wife disclosed my sexual orientation” happen in the first place? If Stacy didn’t violate DADT (going back to the fact that was the regulation whether you liked it or not), it leaves a big unanswered question.

    As to Mr. Callahan’s right to his opinion, it is just that – a right and and an opinion. He is as much entitled to his, as those of you who defended the author are to yours. And, unlike an opinion(regardless of Obama’s declaration) DADT has not been repealed.

    There are a lot of issues with veterans being served by the VA. This column has not benefited one veteran (notice I didn’t say the author hasn’t). It has done nothing but promote opinions. which I believe was the entire motivation of it being written in the first place.

  3. Brandon Friedman    

    Hey folks, I just had to delete half a dozen comments because a single user was posting them using different names. That’s called “sockpuppeting.” Please don’t do it. Pick a handle and stick with it–and don’t try to impersonate others.

  4. Jon    

    It’s sad that it takes a polarizing topic like this to get people to engage in debate. I guess it’s far easier to voice your opinions than to actually do some research and present facts. Sexual orientation should be the least of any veteran’s concerns. Through this blog, the VA is trying to engage veterans and disseminate information. Wake up, people! You’re being distracted by matters of no real consequence, so don’t be surprised when the VA pulls another fast one on you.

  5. Richard    

    Please reread her statement “After 12 years of Army service, and attaining the rank of Sergeant First Class, I was honorably discharged after a colleague’s wife disclosed my sexual orientation”. She didn’t tell the Army until she was confronted because DADT. I am sure when she was confronted by her command she admitted it thus her discharge.

    What about all your guys who were FAT, overweight, failed your PT test and DUI Conviction and were discharge with a Honorable Discharge. Your still called a Veteran.

    Regardless how anyone feels about her sexuality she still served her country and served it proudly which is why she is called a Veteran!

    Stacy thank you for your service.

  6. Dylan Knapp    

    Stacey —

    As a straight, male, former Army NCO I’m damn proud to know that I served in the same Army as you. And as a veteran I’m damn proud to know that you still work on behalf of Soldiers — arguably forgotten Soldiers in dire need of assistance and care.

    We need more people in the service and in the VA with your kind of courage and empathy. I’ll speak on your behalf any day.

    Illegitimi non carborundum

    Dylan Knapp

    1. Ben Dover    

      You forget she got kicked out for not following the rules hot shot? How about those that decided to smoke hash and ignore that rule or those that went AWOL. We need more of them too? an NCO sets the example if they like the rules and code of conduct or not they set the example, this soldier did not and she was put out. Not a good example I want my kids or grandkids following.

  7. Stephen    

    Thank you Stacy for your service and for recognizing all of the gay and lesbian veterans and Servicemembers who have sacrificed so much just to be able to serve our nation.

  8. James    

    I do not think we need an entire month to celebrate Lesbian, Bi and Gay sexual orientation just as I do not think we need and entire month to celebrate a straight person. Fact is whatever all of you think it seems to me that people have forgot the TEAM concept here and have decided to make the issue that being Gay or Lesbian somehow puts you on a higher level than everyone else, thus the setting aside an entire month to celebrate sexual orientation for only Homosexuals and Bi sexual. Why make an issue of it, just serve on your own merit and do not make an issue of who you sleep with. I do not care as long as a person can do their job and if your sexual orientation Gay or straight makes doing your JOB an issue then you should get booted out for not doing your job. I did 22 years served two tours in combat in the Army and I am sure we had some Gay or Bi troops serving in our units 1987-2009, however none made an issue of it and everyone just did the job they are supposed to do and that was it. It is not until people start beating a stinking drum saying HEY look at me!! I am Gay or HEY you! Look at me I am not Gay or whatever your personal agenda may be, that is when the crap shits the fan and people spend more time making and issue of who is and is not Gay than they do on just doing their job. You may not like what I have to say and I am sure someone will come back shooting their mouth off, spouting out garbage as if I am some sort of Homo Phobic, but you read everything I have said folks. Bottom line if you say you’re Gay, I say, well OK that’s your business I don’t need to know about it nor do I need to make special provisions or not talk about my wife and kids in front of you because you think I am somehow offending you with my straight family talk, we do not need special classes on how to treat homosexuals, we have a code of conduct, traits of leaders and soldiers all are very clear so don’t make an issue of your sexual orientation, Gees’ people this is stupid. A month to celebrate anything EXCEPT our veterans who have put it on the line is silly and not needed, I mean we don’t even have a week of to honor the Medal of Honor recipients or our combat wounded so get off the Month long celebrations and forced fed personal agendas and celebrate something worth celebrating like your freedom that was given to you by the US Veterans. Straight, Gay or whatever, focus on important issues like our wounded warriors and the services veterans should be getting and stop beating the drum for personal agendas that benefit very few and waste time, money and resources that could be used for helping our veterans.
    Regulator 5-OUT!

  9. Brendan Flynn    

    This whole exchange goes to illustrate one of the great things about the military — the fact that people come from all different backgrounds (races, creeds, sexual orientations, etc.) for a common purpose: the defense of this great nation.

    I am glad that, very soon, folks like Stacy Vasquez will be able to serve proudly and openly in the ranks right next to folks like Josh Callihan, and it won’t matter who you love, or what God you believe in — but simply how well you can do the job you have been assigned.

    We in the military/vets community have had issues in the past (and I’m sure we’ll continue to have issues here and there moving forward) but the key thing is that we treat people based on merit and in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Anything less than this is unacceptable.

  10. Kevin Scott    

    And yet you still refer to it as a sexual preference. I am sure that makes it easier to justify in your mind your opinions. And if you don’t understand why that word, preference, is such a offensive word, that is the root of your issues with a minority group celebrating its diversity or the government recognizing that diversity. Again, do you take offense with Black History month or Asian-Pacific Islander month, or any of the other government supported recognitions of the many threads in our national fabric?

    What about St. Patrick’s day?

    Do I still call you a bigot, sadly yes. In reading your post I see the offensive words: “you people,” “sexual preference,” and worst of all, the idea that the government is deciding what is moral or not! I see no proclamations of morality, either in the President’s pronouncement or any other official publication.

    I do see a recognition of all people as equal. Although equality is not the same thing as saying that my life is a moral one, that’s a discussion between me and my god (I say “my” to preclude you from acusing me of worshipping a god who is not the same as yours), treating all people equal (even the ones you don’t like) is a moral act, and thank God* (see previous comment on god) that we have a government that is acting morally on this issue!

    Oh, and by the way, no one is requiring you to support LGBT month (which you obviously don’t)! You don’t have to go watch a Pride Parade, you needn’t eat or drink anything rainbow-colored, and for god’s*(ditto) sake, do not, under any reason, dress fashionably for the rest of this month!

  11. Josh Callihan    

    So you wont talk about your combat experience to solicit sympathy, but you will give your sob story about your kids to do just that.

    Read my post and tell me if you still want to call me a bigot. All you people keeping reading past the fact that I agree it is wrong for you to live your life in secret. It is wrong that any American, especially a service member should have to live thier life in secret.

    What is more wrong is that this government gets to decide what is moral and what is not. We both disagree about what is moral, but we dont both get the same support from our government. You get denied benefits, which is wrong. And I have to support LGBT month, which is wrong.

    Yet, you still think the goverment should call these shots?

    But to answer your question, of course our veterans get the same respect and treatment regardless of their sexual preference. I would not tolerate for a second a veteran being discriminated against in my Medical Center for any reason. I will also not tolerate the government telling me what is morally right or how I should think about my religious/political views.

  12. Josh Callihan    

    That is correct. I believe (very strongly) that no American should be denied the right to anything because of their age, race, creed, religion, or sexual preference. Let alone the opportunity to serve openly in the military.

    My point is what this person said, the government should not be making an decision about the matter one way or the other. Repealing DADT was the right thing, not because I agree with the lifesyles, but because the government shouldn’t get to say who is right and who is wrong, what is moral and what is not.

    You dont want my moral views to be pushed on everyone, and I dont want your moral views to be pushed on everyone. I want the government and our esteemed President to leave it alone. Repealing DADT is one thing, creating LGBT pride month has an entirely different motive. The government should be protecting all of our views, not trying to tell us which view is right and which view is wrong. Because we are never going to agree on which is which.

  13. Kevin Scott    

    Thanks, Mike, for educating Josh about presidential proclamations and the fact that Stacy’s celebration of LGBT month is in line with that proclamation. I am sure that during Black History Month, or Asian-Pacific month, or any of the myriad of celebrations of this nation’s diversity cause Josh to bite his lip. Finally he found one he could bash!

    Josh, I am a fellow Marine, so Semper Fi to you and thank you for your service. I served 27 years and retired as a Colonel – I flew in Iraq, Ive been on the ground in Afganistan and in Iraq – I have walked combat foot patrols. I’ve done what the Corps and Country requested of me. I have my aches and pains (and combat-related disabilities) as well, but I won’t list them to try and curry any sympathy from you.

    I also kept my sexual orientation (not preference, not choice) quiet and did my job the entire time. As you may correctly surmised, I came in prior to DADT. I didn’t lie. I had so repressed any feelings because everyone, church, family, friends, my country, told me that it was wrong, it was a sin, and it was an abomination. So I convinced myself I wasn’t gay and answered truthfully when I entered the Naval Academy, when I was commissioned a Marine…

    Thankfully, I came to realization (and peace) of who I am. So many friends I know whose lives were destroyed because they didn’t make it through the hatred and denial.

    And under DADT, I lived the last eight years of my career with a man that I love and have married and have two beautiful children with. But when I was in combat, they wouldn’t know if something had happened to me. I couldn’t wear a wedding band. I couldn’t have their pictures on my desk.

    I hope, if you work for the VA, that you show at least a little professionalism for your clients (even if you don’t work for the VA…wherever you work).

    When I went to register my children under my name for the social security benefits that I have earned – my husband cannot take advantage of them, but at least my children can – after observing the clerk handle other customers with efficiency and courtesy, I stepped up to the window. I presented the birth certificates (with both my and my husband’s name listed as parents), and the correctly filled out paperwork to get SSNs assigned to them (and link them to my SSN). He read the documents, and excused himself. 30 minutes later, the manager came out and told me they could not accept the birth certificate as proof – I would need to have the hospital communicate directly with them, and that it would take another six weeks to process. He then asked me if I was sure I wanted both “fathers” listed – he asked how it would feel if my daughter had to apply for benefits only to find both fathers listed on her record? The implication was clear that he felt it would be an embarrassment to her…

    And you ask why we celebrate Gay Pride Month and not Heterosexual Month? Maybe when civil servants stop asking me why I am not embarrassed for securing government services I am entitled to!

    Semper Fi.

    1. Ben Dover    

      Now I know why I never liked officers.

    2. Rod Long    

      What was your call sign?

  14. Just another opinion    

    I can detect Callihan’s main point, although it may not be coming through because it is veiled by his own personal views on gay lifestyles.

    It sounds as though his point is this: The discrimination Stacy experienced in being kicked out was wrong. She and many other openly gay individuals should have the same opportunities in the military and the same access to healthcare and benefits as any heterosexual veteran.

    Callihan is saying that generally the government needs to stay out of things that involve an American’s personal lifestyle choices. The government should stay out of saying gays cannot serve openly in the military, just the same as the government should stay out of allowing a VA employee to use taxpayer-funded resources to share a personal story related to her sexual orientation.

    In fact, my guess is Callihan would probably be the first to say that our country’s laws not allowing gays to marry isn’t right either. He probably shares my own libertarian philosophy that our country’s laws, along with the policies, and initiatives within federal agencies such as the VA, should neither promote nor stifle personal choices attached to our liberties. Therefore, unless we can recognize a “heterosexual pride month” within the VA, we should not recognize a “LGBT pride month” within the VA.

    Stacy, thank you for your service and Josh, thank you for your service and sacrifice as well.

  15. James Freed    

    Here at the Portland OR VA Hospital there are many GLBT employees serving the Veterans and their needs. There will always be some who discriminate and question why but those who have served and continue to serve with honor can now be honest if they choose to be involved socially with others in their units.
    Older Veterans still have bigots among them or don’t understand the need to be honest but the younger Veterans DADT is a non-issue. They have GLBT’s in their families, collegeers and working environments without question.
    Portland has a vibrant tolerance for all and the Veterans For Human Rights are here to serve both gay and straight Veterans and active duty members.

  16. James Freed    

    Here at the Portland OR VA Hospital there are many GLBT employees serving the Veterans and their needs. There will always be some who discriminate and question why but those who have served and continue to serve with honor can now be honest if they choose to be involved others in their units.
    Older Veterans still have bigots among them or don’t understand the need to be honest but the younger Veterans DADT is a non-issue. They have GLBT’s in their families, collegeers and working environments without question.
    Portland has a vibrant tolerance for all and the Veterans For Human Rights are here to serve both gay and straight Veterans and active duty members.

    1. Ben Dover    

      How about talking about jobs for the veterans in the VA, ever look at those numbers? I care less about who people cuddle up with at night, but I do think teh VA should send a bunch of the NON vets gay or straight to the unemployment line and hire our brave veterans needing a job. I bet teh VA has Draft Dodgers in their ranks that got out of Vietnam and stayed in college while mommy and daddy paid the bill and real men and women bled to keep them free. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it! Talking about Homosexuals and ignoring the real issue.

  17. Mike H.    

    Thank you for your service, Stacy!

    1. Ben Dover    

      Thanks Stacy for making it to E-7 and then getting kicked out for not following the rules that you should have been following, I suppose when someon doesnt want to charge a hill now they can just sit down because we have E-7’s out here doing their own thing, getting booted out and then be patted on the back. Thank you Stacy for not finishing your tour and now taking a job from a vet that did!!!!

  18. Josh Callihan    

    I didnt want this to turn into a conversation about gays vs. straights. Everybody deserves the right to be whoever they want to be in this country. That is what makes America the awesome place it is.

    I am simply trying to point out how hypocritical it is that my opnion about this womans story makes me a bigot. Just because I do not agree with her choices, doesn’t mean I dont think she deserves the same rights as a veteran and an American. Instead it means I don’t want to hear about it. The right-wing Christian values that I have and share with many other Americans should be valued and respected by all, just the same as we should all value and respect LGBT Americans. But that is not the case is it? I am the minority, I am the one who is a bigot, I am the one who is ugly?

    I have served, fought, bled and almost died for this country. My right leg is paralyzed from being shot in the spine. I served in the Marine Corps out of high school and I still continue to serve my country. So if any of you think I am going to keep my opnion to myself when there is another government employee using government resources to tell her personal story about the trials and tribulations of being gay; you are all very mistaken.

    It was wrong of this woman to give her testimony and to solicit support from other VA employees to celebrate LGBT month. It was wrong of her to use a public platform and goverment resources to make a political statement. And it was wrong because Americans share different opinions about these lifestyle choices. And since Americans share different opinions, the government should be supporting both views or none at all. She has a responsibility and duty to all Americans to keep it to herself. That’s my point.

    1. Mike H.    

      Josh, this is not about choices. All credible research into the subject of gender and sexual identity support that one does not choose their sexuality.

      While you and others may be uncomfortable with the fact, LGBT Pride Month was declared by the President. Just as with other Presidential recognitions, it is very appropriate for a federal employee to participate in and share in the celebration. You may not be a fan of the man, but he is our President, Chief Executive, and Commander-in-Chief, and Stacy’s brief sharing of her personal life is in line with the President’s declaration.

      “NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the
      United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me
      by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby
      proclaim June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
      Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to
      eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the
      great diversity of the American people.”

  19. Combat Veteran as well    

    Stacy,
    You the person!
    Redhook

  20. Alex N.    

    Those of us know know Stacy at work and in life know that she is a true selfless hero that has not only served her country (and excelled at it), but who also continues to serve her fellow service members and veterans on a daily basis. There are few people (maybe <1% of the population) these days who can say that they have given so much, especially in light of the slap in the face that Stacy was given through her discharge under DADT.

    Those who are ignorant enough to permanently etch such bigoted rhetoric on the internet will not only be thoroughly embarrassed by and ashamed of such words later in life, but they will be UNable to ever escape them in the age of the internet, in which everything is permanently stored, archived, and cached. It's Darwinism in its finest (and most useful) form.

    Congrats, Stacy, on your success and on how far the VA has come in carrying out its mission to truly serve ALL veterans.

  21. Stefan Stent    

    Thank you Stacy for your service, for fighting intolerance and for helping Homless Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those who fight for justice and equality, such as yourself, is what makes our nation great.

    Stefan Stent
    SSG (ret) Oregon-ANG, 2-218 FA

  22. Gay-Married to a Veteran    

    Stacy,

    I just want to say thank you for your work, and for speaking out. I really doubt that any of the homeless veterans you serve every day would care one way or the other that you’re lesbian.

    Once DADT is finally repealed, gay and lesbian service members will remain legally inferior to straight service members. Same-sex pouses will not be eligible for health care or housing. Dual-military couples will not be stationed with their same sex partners. And when a gay service member dies overseas, his partner will be the last to be notified.

    If gay and lesbian people in the military and VA don’t “speak up,” none of this will change. This is not about the private lives of lesbians and gays; it’s about being visible, public, “out,” for the benefit of everyone that follows.

    So, thank you. For your service, for your work today, and for taking the risk of being open, for all of our sake.

    1. Ben Dover    

      You must be kidding me , you know they give out your e-mail address to the G-Men who monitor this site, tell your husband, wife or whatever they may want to look for another job now thanks to you.

  23. B McG    

    The uneducated and bigoted comments on this blog are good proof of why it is important to bring attention to LGBT issues and the people like you who fight for equality (as well as doing all you to to help Veterans). The people who typed their crude comments above are the minority in America now, they are the ones who are afraid of other people and they let that fear run their lives and ruin the lives of others.

    If we listened to the few opinions like theirs we wouldn’t take care of homeless Vets, because they are different than us…we wouldn’t be taking steps to make sure women Vets are taken care of, because they are a minority….we just wouldn’t have the national spirit to take care of others that we do have.

    The positive folks that don’t care who you love or how you were born appreciate all you do, whether that means helping people out that are like you or not like you.

  24. TJM    

    First off, thank you for your work on the veteran homelessness issue. That has got to be an uphill battle in this economy.

    But, of course, this thread only came to my attention because of the unfortunate direction in which it turned.

    I think the issue above is that views regarding same-sex marriage, homosexuality, bisexuality, changing genders, et cetera, tend to be political and tend also to intertwine with religious views. Generally, politics and religion are topics best to stray from in professional or official settings. The term “LGBT” is political. It refers to a category of non-heterosexuals and this categorization exists to create a common identity to better mobilize for the political cause of seeking social change to remove stigma and legal distinctions from lifestyles peculiar to individuals who are not heterosexuals. In more left-leaning areas, such as where I live, it is also common to see the additional letters Q and A added to the end, to denote those who are “questioning” as well as those who are heterosexual “allies” – referring to those who are heterosexual, but are morally and/or politically allied with the causes noted above.

    I think few, if any, are capable of separating the term LGBT from its political connotation. I think the first paragraph is unnecessary. Given the political connotation, it may also be inappropriate on a government website (not illegal or unethical – just a topic better left unaddressed, in my opinion). That said, if the first paragraph were omitted, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with this post by SFC Vasquez. If I were her supervisor, I think that I would have recommended that she omit that first paragraph. If I were the blog administrator, I think that I would also delete the comments and turn off commenting for this thread since it is now little more than a tit-for-tat back-and-forth for people to weigh in with their social and/or political views.

    Of course, maybe I’m full of it. But, since everyone is tossing in their two cents, there’s mine.

    Thanks again for the work on veteran homelessness.

  25. Brian Hawthorne    

    Stacy, thank you for your years of distinguished service, and your continued support of our troops and veterans. I would be proud to fight by your side anywhere in the world. It is so refreshing to know that people who have been affected by this ignorant and naive policy can still continue their service to our nation with integrity and passion like you do.

    Thanks for all you do, and will do for our nation and its heroes, despite those who continue to judge people through their own narrow and prejudiced view of the world.

    1. Ben Dover    

      I didnt see anyone judging except for you. Soudns to me like she got kicked out and should have a bad discharge so how did she get a Government job when we got boys and girls getting honorable discharges out of work? I think we have turned into a cry and get what you want country.

  26. Michael Breen    

    Stacy,
    I thank you for your continued service to your nation and to your fellow veterans, even in the face of misguided discrimination. You remind us all that moral courage is as essential to the profession of arms as physical bravery. Stand tall, and know that your brothers and sisters in arms stand with you.

    Respectfully,
    Mike Breen

  27. Rod Long    

    It seems that VA has more important things to worry about than the promotion of homosexuality. They are behind on claims, they are rude to veterans, and they have lots of corruption among employees. I wish they would work on these things rather than publishing stuff like this.

    Josh didn’t say homosexual veterans shouldn’t be served by the VA, he simply said they shouldn’t be made a special class because of their sexual habits. And, he didn’t want to hear about it; perhaps because of an “ick” factor. It’s reasonable to not want to hear about your sexual habits.

    Stick to your knitting VA and give Stacy some claims to handle. if she made SFC in 12 years and still got an honorable discharge after violating DADT, you are capable and did something right.

    Oh, Michael Watts? you sound more like a SH2 than a MM2. So, I dedicate this song to you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw

    1. Brian Hawthorne    

      Who said anything about sexual habits? Stacy indicated that she is a lesbian, just as you indicated by your tone that you are straight. What about this writing is at all inappropriate or “icky”? That’s like saying you preferring a female partner is talking about your sex life, which it is clearly not.

      Let’s not make this something it is not.

      1. Rod Long    

        Stacy said something about sexual habits. Specifically, she mentioned a month long celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) habits, preferences, and behavior. it’s a distraction. The VA should focus providing better service to the veteran, where they have significant shortfalls, rather than this. it’s ok for Mr. Callihan not to want to hear about this.

    2. JenH    

      Rod Long, your name is a sexual euphemism. I think it is “icky”. I don’t care if you were born with that name or if your name has nothing to do with me. Since I find it icky you should not say or write it publicly. I don’t care what you get called on your own time, just don’t bring that name or your class of people with icky names celebrating your icky names to the VA.

      You seem more like a seaman than a soldier.

      Thank you,
      Icked Out Veteran Who Doesn’t Hate You, Just Your Icky Name

      1. Rod Long    

        Ms. Vasques is celbrating, for a month, her sexual preference and those with similar preferences. And, the taxpayer is paying for it. It’s ok for Mr. Callihan to suggest that this is irrevlant to the VA’s mission and inappropriate focus. We don’t have a month long “Rod Long” celebration month at VA…yet.

        it’s really interesting to see the politics of this. mr. Callihan indicated that homosexaul veterans should be served based on their veteran, rather than sexual, status. He simply said her sexual preferences, behaviors, and habits should not be celebrated at the VA. For that, he gets called a bigot.

        It won’t be long before the VA does trangender surgery, at taxpayer expense. and, if you object, you will be called a bigot.

        I’d much rather see a post from those that have had bad experiences with VBA or VHA.

        1. JH    

          Where did she mention sex? You drew that out because your mind is fixated on sex. Grow up. LGBT people deserve to have the same openess and fullfilemt of thier lives- forcing them to hide thier lives while at the VA, while not forcing straight veterans to do the same, is discrimination. You sir, support discrimination and are on the losing side of history.

          Let’s repeat from above, and please answer these questions if you can so we can all see your true colors: “Do you request straight servicemembers and veterans to take off their wedding bands, not mention their partners and not speak of their children lest you be reminded they have sex? I imagine you do not because you do not start fantasizing about the sex lives of your fellow servicemembers when these things happen. Unless they are gay it seems. It is very odd you are unable to read this post and not think about personal sexual circumstances of the writer. It sounds like a personal issue of your own; not a problem with this post, its content or its writer.

          You see, you celebrate the sexual preference at the VA every time a straight servicemember has their personal lives validated through the daily recognition and benefits provided to straight partners and relationships. Unless you argue for that recognition to be silenced you sir are a hypocrite or a bigot; or both. Your “choice”.”

      2. Ben Dover    

        You think your name is bad Rod Long look at mine…I joined the Air Forc\ce by the way serving as a “tail gunner” in the late 1940’s prior to jets. Talk about the luck.

    3. CSM Marks    

      Uhh OK I like that song..Very good comments

      1. Rod Long    

        Are you kidding? When did she mentioned sex? LBGT refers to ones sexual behavior. Josh is not saying LBGT’s should be mistreated or denied service by the VA. hey, if you want to spend your free time merging your reproductive system with someone’s digestive system or vice versa, go right ahead. But, do we need to celebrate it when VA is behind on claims, had poor medical care, and is full of corruption? No.

        It’s funny how a former 11B appears to have a nice post about going to school and he gets one comment while this gets 65.

  28. SSG Sarah Behan    

    I think the honorable discharge says it all. Thank you for your service! One day we’ll be as shocked about the hoopla over DADT repeal as we are about racial integration of the services today. Unfortunately, I’m sure you’re used to the negative comments, but know there are so many current service members and veterans who know that sexuality has nothing to do with the quality or ability of Soldiers, Marines, Airment, or Sailors. Again, thank you for your service and your continued dedication to some of our most vulnerable veterans!

  29. Robert Diamond    

    Stacy– I thank you for your service in uniform. I thank you even more for your continued service and dedication towards eliminating homelessness amongst our fellow veterans. It is because you have refused to turn your back on our brothers and sisters that we are making progress every day at fixing the problems our veterans face. And you do it even after you were a victim of institutional discrimination because of your sexual orientation. I am proud to call you a sister-in-arms, and proud to welcome every veteran regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
    Respectfully yours,
    Rob Diamond

  30. Hal Donahue    

    Dan:

    Sorry, but I strongly disagree with your statement that we respect the statement of a bigot. If the deluded man had spoken out against blacks or Jews would you say the same? I thank the bigot for his service but that in no way excuses his bigotry and nonsense. I suggest that you reconsider your remarks.

    Cheers
    Hal

    1. CSM Marks    

      And another fine ignorant response.

  31. Dan    

    1,000,000 LGBT veterans and approximately 68,000 current active duty personnel is a number put forth by the Williams Institute of UCLA School of Law. The Institute is, by charter, a gay rights group and therefore the statistical integrity of this population number should be questioned. I am not saying this because of the type of study, rather that groups that validate their position by their own “research” causes me angst.

    Whatever the actual number of LGBT veterans and active duty personnel,it is obviously more than zero. However, having said that, DADT has not yet been repealed. In my opinion, the “celebration” is premature and this blog does not help the LGBT’s cause for equality or understanding.

    The author states she was “outed” by a colleague’s wife. She obviously violated the DADT policy, otherwise she would still be in the military (or retired). She also made a material misstatement on her initial enlistment as that occurred before DADT. In my opinion, this is no different than telling a prospective employer you have a MBA, when you have only an undergraduate degree. If hired the employer was expecting one level of educational attainment, but received something less. Even if the employee was outstanding in his performance, it is still a breach of trust and therefore ethically wrong.

    Is not allowing gays in the military the wrong policy for our time? I believe it is. Just like racially segregated units were the wrong policy in the past and is now considered repugnant. However, when we are in the military, we follow the orders and regulations regardless of our own beliefs. Sometimes, it takes leaders a long time to learn what the followers already know.

    For Ed to come back at Mr.Callahan in the manner in which he responded is out of place, unnecessary and shows a lack of respect to his service and his beliefs. It matters not if he is in a majority or a minority, a veteran deserves to have his views treated with the same respect given the author.

    1. Another Veteran    

      Dan you appear painfully unaware of how DADT was actually codified in law. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a political compromise, the actual law on the books states that ANY statement, act or marriage (SAM) was against policy. DADT simply said we won’t come looking for you. Some people did. Regardless, anything more than asexuality is a violation of the policy and something the DoD tacitly accepted. To be clear- you were expected to be in violation as long as you did it quietly enough that no one could “tell” on you.

      Further, your assumptions about Vasquez and the basis for her discharge only demonstrate your own shortcomings in understanding the law. You also do not know her personal understanding of her own sexuality at the time of her enlistment. Without such facts- that neither of us have- any assertions regarding her conduct is false at best and malicious at worst.

      Lastly, Ed simply responded to Callahan. Which is his right as much as it is Callahan’s right to respond to Vasquez. It is not “disrespect” to challenge a statement. Calling for silence (by saying it is out of place) in the face of challenge is simply cowardly. If Callahan can dish it, he certainly should be able to take it. Ed was more respectful to Callahan than Callahan was to Vasquez.

    2. David C    

      Dan,

      You wrote: “She also made a material misstatement on her initial enlistment as that occurred before DADT”

      You don’t know that. Perhaps she realized she was gay after she enlisted. Many people don’t discover their true feelings until early adulthood.

      Your defense of Josh Callihan is flawed. You say he “deserves to have his views treated with the same respect given the author”. His opinion itself has be worthy of respect on it’s own, whether he expresses his opinion in response to someone else’s views or not. Simply offering a counterpoint, no matter how insulting, doesn’t entitle him to respect. All he does is write disrespectful, degrading things, like he is “disgusted by these people”, as if gay veterans are some sort of vermin. Have you noticed that talk shows no longer invite KKK members to panel discussions about race? Reasonable people don’t consider that disrespectful of racists.

      In disagreement that the VA is observing LGBT History month, Josh writes “we need to make it fair and also have heterosexual month”. Would he make the same argument against Black History month in February and propose that March be White History Month? It’s perfectly reasonable for a group recently (and sometimes still) discriminated against to have an organized, officially recognized period of atonement to try to overcome that injustice.

      The problem with DADT is that discrimination is wrong, not that some gay people, compelled by patriotism, find ways around DADT so they can still serve.

      1. James    

        1. S0 here you guys go on the offense, someone said something you didn’t want to hear and BOOM lets blast them…Whatever happened to cause the discharge of the author of this is her business, but as a former officer I can tell you that her discharge or court-martial whatever the case may have been was based on well known military directives and orders and the UCMJ which may be flawed in some areas, was still the law and every soldier is given UCMJ training, so like the many I saw discharged for drug abuse, AWOL and DADT (a compromise as you say-I agree on that one) each soldier including this NCO was well known, she broke the law of the land of the time and told someone and someone told on her and the rest is history, that was the law and it was established and enforced, just like hanging cattle thieves in the 1800’s that was the law of the land then and many felt it sucked and got it changed. Now we have new rules to live by and that shall be done just as the others before. I do think the military should enforce the adultery law and cowardice in the face of the enemy codes more than they do but hey that’s my opinion, which by the way I am entitled to, I have seen more unit’s moral destroyed by adultery and cowardice than anything else and those two are the least punished offenses but have to worse effects on unit cohesion.

        1. David C    

          Did you mean your reply to “Another Veteran” instead of me? Your reply doesn’t really make sense to my post, unless you just completely missed the point of it.

  32. Michael Watts    

    SFC Vasquez,

    Thank you for your service and your continued service to our country.

    Michael Watts
    MM2 (NUKE/SW) USN, 2002-08

  33. Josh Callihan    

    Not even one year after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed we have to celebrate LGBT month in the VA?!?!?

    I am curious to know when the sensitive delicacies of people like me, who are grossly offended by the personal/sexual preferences of my fellow colleagues and veterans are going to be taken into consideration. I have as much Constitutional right to be disgusted by these people as they have right to be who they are. But there is a solution that will still allow us to live in perfect American harmony…. Stop talking about your personal sexual preferences in the professional environment.

    The Deputy Director of Homeless Veterans Program just thought she would share her experience in a press release/email that goes out to thousands of people. As a public affairs officer and a combat veteran, I don’t think I would be allowed to send a story to the world about any personal experience I had while in the military. Certainly not a story about the struggles related to my personal sexual circumstances.

    From now on I propose unless the tax payers of this country ask us to share our military/personal/sexual experiences we should just shut up and do our job, which is serving veterans. LGBT veterans are veterans yes; and they will be served along with all veterans. That doesn’t mean we need to celebrate the sexual preference of our veterans. If we are going to do that, then we need to make it fair and also have heterosexual month. Until we do, we won’t be celebrating anybody else’s sexual preference at my VA facility.

    1. Ed    

      As usual the Majority that for so long has stepped on the rights of a Minority group screams when a hint of equality is displayed. You can have your hetero day when you can prove you have suffered hate crimes, murders, insults and discrimination based on your hetero status. It is just good to know that despite people determined to keep us down, there is a rising tide of equality that will not be restrained by ignorance.

      1. James    

        I am seeing that now.

      2. B Clougher    

        You got it wrong Stacy. Why does the VA or an agent acting on behalf of the VA give a hoot about anyone’s sexual preference? A Vet is a Vet. If you want to marry your same sex partner and put on a wedding band, thats your business. I promise not to make assumptions about your personal preferences as long as you promise not to consider me a bigot. Nobody seems to be celbrating heterosexual lifestyles with parades and it doesn’t seem to bother too many people. I think if you just get over yourself and focus on your job at the VA, you’ll find plenty of fullfillment and lots of people who don’t really care about your personal life, but could probably use your help. Thanks for all you do.

    2. Michael Watts    

      Mr. Callihan,

      During the DADT Repeal Bill process 75% of Americans supported repealing this policy. Do you know how difficult it is to get 75% of Americans to agree on anything?

      Recently, a Gallup poll released on 20 May 2011 showed that 53% of Americans support same-gender marriages. It was the first time in Gallup’s polling history that this question showed a majority in favor. The biggest telling that times are changing towards LGBT persons is that 61% of men 18-49 SUPPORT marriage equality compared to 48% when the question was asked one year ago.

      Mr. Callihan, you’re views are no longer popular and will continue on the decline.

      Michael Watts
      MM2 (NUKE/SW) USN 2002-08

      1. Justin Mikes    

        Where did you get your number at bud, I looked it up and your off by a major margin. Not that I am taking any side here just saying be right when you come on here and hate on some guy for speaking his mind.

    3. Brandon Friedman    

      Hey Josh, know what disgusts me? Bigotry.

      1. Justin Mikes    

        I am dusgusted by all of you who marched to get somethng good for our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters and now you act like the same people that hated on you.

    4. JenH    

      So sad. Mr. Callihan, do you request straight servicemembers and veterans to take off their wedding bands, not mention their partners and not speak of their children lest you be reminded they have sex? I imagine you do not because you do not start fantasizing about the sex lives of your fellow servicemembers when these things happen. Unless they are gay it seems. It is very odd you are unable to read this post and not think about personal sexual circumstances of the writer. It sounds like a personal issue of your own; not a problem with this post, its content or its writer.

      You see, you celebrate the sexual preference at the VA every time a straight servicemember has their personal lives validated through the daily recognition and benefits provided to straight partners and relationships. Unless you argue for that recognition to be silenced you sir are a hypocrite or a bigot; or both. Your “choice”.

      1. Martica Justice    

        OK look Jen H that is so silly to say that, what are you doing on here right now?

    5. Stefan Stent    

      Mr. Callihan no one is forcing you to “celebrate” anything. Stacy Vasquez is just sharing her personal story on a blog of which you didn’t have to read. She also mentioned that her grandmother and several of her relatives were killed in the Holocaust. Was that inappropriate as well? Of course you have a Constitutional right to be “disgusted by these people”. One also is perfectly free to be prejudiced against people for their race, sex and religion. In a professional setting however, you have to put those feelings aside and treat everyone fairly and with respect. You may have noticed that Ms. Vasquez serves Homeless Veterans through the VA. Do you really think that the people she helps, who are suffering and are probably glad to be recieving aid, really care about her orientation? This world would be better off with more people like her and less narrow-minded folks.

      1. Martica Justice    

        I think all the bad comments and hate mail looks to be from the same person changing their name. What a bunch of cry babies you can not stand anyone standing up for themselves or their own personal feelings in this case.

    6. Combat Veteran as well    

      Dude,
      No one is asking you to fantasize about someones sexual preferences. Get over yourself and consider willing your attitude to the Smithsonian. The only thing grossly offensive is your bigotry.
      Man up.
      Redhook

      1. COL Sanders    

        Combat Veteran as well, what an ignorant comment, you call foul and yet you come on here being offensive and acting like some sort of crusader for gay rights. Dude get over yourself and do something productive and not destructive.

    7. linda    

      i am sorry you feel offended by people like us. i spent almost 11 years on active duty; received the meritorious service medal, navy achievement medal and excelled in my chosen field as a journalist.

      i applaud ms vasquez for her service to the military and in her current position with the va. i am still disappointed in the 21st century that there are homophobic people who want to labels gay and lesbians as bad people because they are gay and lesbian.

      1. CSM Marks    

        And you want to post your medals for serving this nation defending the rights of all people while you trample the rights of this person for saying what they believe. 11 Years did not teach you much about respecting all people. The views this man expressed in here were not hate driven, nor did he threaten anyone yet all of you come out here swinging. Go do some pushups and get your head right and then come back and respond. HOOOAAAHHH

    8. Stephen    

      Seriously Josh? What kind of hateful world do you live in?
      I’m thankful for all of our Servicemembers and veterans who sacrifice so much, both straight and gay. Get over your bigotry.

      1. CSM Marks    

        And yet another bugle cry to start BS over a guy voicing his oppinion. I say your the Bigot here Stephen.

    9. Lauren A.    

      Where in the text that Stacy V published, did you read anything about sexual experience. Do you not know what sexual orientation means?
      I completely understand you not wanting to hear about gay and lesbian stories or personal experiences, but neither do we want to hear your complaints.
      To avoid this, maybe you should stop reading memoirs such as this one.

    10. derick wade    

      I certainly hope this post isn’t from the Josh C. from Boise who works/worked as a Public Affairs Officer. If so, you deserve to be terminated for your less than professional language which you chose to share on a PUBLIC site which also happens to represent the very Org. you work for. There is a Professional Code of Conduct all employees must adhere to. Remove your post or I will be forced to contact you.

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