The Defense Department, after discharging gay soldiers under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, apparently sends them bills requiring them to pay back “unearned portions” of their contracts. High-profile discharged soldier Dan Choi received his bill this week from Defense Department Finance and Debt Services in the amount of $2,500. He sent a strongly worded letter to White House Public Engagement Director Brian Bond explaining why he wasn’t going to pay.
“It would be easy to pay the $2500 bill and be swiftly done with this diseased chapter of my life,” he wrote. “…But my obligation is to take a stand… I refuse to pay your claim.”
The U.S. Military spent roughly $200 million on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell since its implementation nearly two decades ago, recruiting, training, investigating and replacing gay service members. If Choi’s bill is any indication, the government has been, in effect, heaping on bureaucratic injury to insult by demanding discharged gay soldiers help foot the bill the whole time.
“By flagrantly and repeatedly violating an immoral law, I have flagrantly and repeatedly saluted the honor of America’s promise,” Choi wrote in his “screw you” letter to the White House. “At West Point, when we recited the Cadet Prayer we reminded ourselves ‘always to choose the harder right over the easier wrong.'”
Now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed, will Choi and all of the other discharged gay soldiers still be forced to pay? Or will the government be made to pay reparations to the gay soldiers it discharged under the policy and whom it apparently billed for the pleasure?
Dear Mr. President:
Today I received a $2,500 bill from your Defense Department Finance and Debt Services. Specifically, you claim payment for “the unearned portion” of my Army contract. Six months after my discharge under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy I have tried to move forward with my life, and I was inspired by your clarion calls for our progress as one nation towards a more just society. I have served my country in combat and I have tried to live my life by the values I learned at West Point in continued service to our nation. To move forward in my own life I have finally sought treatment for Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Insomnia, and Depressive Disorder from the Veterans Affairs Department. But I still find myself on a domestic battlefield for basic dignity as an American citizen. I know I am not alone in this fight because of the desperate cries for help I get from discharged, unemployed, discriminated, and suicidal veterans. I have felt all of their same pains personally. Today I also witness the disgrace of a country that perpetually discovers methods to punish its own citizens for taking a moral stand.
By flagrantly and repeatedly violating an immoral law, I have flagrantly and repeatedly saluted the honor of America’s promise. At West Point, when we recited the Cadet Prayer we reminded ourselves “always to choose the harder right over the easier wrong.” It would be easy to pay the $2500 bill and be swiftly done with this diseased chapter of my life, where I sinfully deceived and tolerated self-hatred under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Many thousands have wrestled with their responsibilities and expedient solutions when confronted with issues of this magnitude. I understand you also wrestle with issues of our equality. But I choose to cease wrestling, to cease the excuses, to cease the philosophical grandstanding and ethical gymnastics of political expediency in the face of moral duty. My obligations to take a stand, knowing all the continued consequences of my violations, are clear.
I refuse to pay your claim.
Former Army First Lieutenant
West Point Class of 2003
DFAS Account Statement 12/20/2010 (2 pages)
Hat tip to Pam.