Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" This Year
I am a longtime advocate for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prohibits gay men and women from serving openly in the military, and today I had the chance to speak with three former service members discharged under that law. Veterans Mike Almy, Stacy Vasquez and David Hall met with me to speak about their service and how this misguided policy ended it. They each served with distinction, and it is shameful that they were discharged for no reason other than their sexual orientation.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I believe “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is harmful to our national security and readiness—especially since we are embroiled in two wars. And I believe the stories of these former service members reinforce the need to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The Pentagon is studying how to implement an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and while I agree that is a necessary step, I also believe strongly that we must repeal it this year. I will continue to work with other senators to ensure that the repeal is included in the Defense Authorization bill, which will be marked up in the Senate Armed Services Committee next month. But we still face an uphill battle, and we will need a bipartisan push to clinch this urgent effort. The stories these dismissed service members told me today are extremely powerful and compelling, and they’ll help as I urge my colleagues to support repeal. The countless men and women who currently are unable to serve our country honestly deserve a change. And I believe it’s imperative for our national security.
Former Air Force Major Mike Almy
Mike Almy joined the US Air Force in 1993 after graduating from Wright State University, where he earned his commission through Air Force ROTC. He served a total of thirteen years on active duty as a communications officer before he was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2006.
During his career in the Air Force, Almy was stationed at Kelly AFB, Texas; Randolph Air Force Base, Texas; Scott Air Force Base, Illinois; Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Quantico Marine Corps Base, Virginia; Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. He deployed to the Middle East four times during his career, supporting Operation Desert Fox, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Almy holds a master's degree from Webster University, and is also a graduate of Marine Corps University and Air University. His decorations include the Joint Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal. He was also named Officer of the Quarter and Officer of the Year several times throughout his career. In 2005 he was named the top communications officer for the Air Force in Europe, and in 2006 he was recommended for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. Since leaving the military Almy has worked as an IT consultant in the Washington, DC area on projects for the Department of State and Department of Defense. Almy is a native of Dayton, Ohio.
Former Sergeant First Class Stacy Vasquez, U.S. Army (1991-2003)
Stacy Vasquez began her career with the United States Army in 1991, immediately after high school. She trained as a paralegal, and worked in that capacity for about ten years.
In 2002, Vasquez was ordered to attend recruiting school. She was selected as the Distinguished Honor Graduate from both recruiting school and advanced non-commissioned officer paralegal studies courses. During Vasquez's annual evaluation in 2002, she was cited as the top recruiter in the Army and told she should be promoted ahead of her peers.
In January 2003, Vasquez's commander told her that a co-worker's wife had seen Vasquez kissing a woman at a club in Dallas. Vasquez's commander told her that he liked Vasquez's work as a recruiter, and would not tell anybody about the allegation if Vasquez would write a statement saying that she was a lesbian. After the statement, she was discharged from the Army in August 2003.
At the time of her honorable discharge, Vasquez had served in the Army for nearly twelve years. Vasquez earned many awards and commendations during her long Army career, some of these include the Army Commendation Medal (6), Army Achievement Medal (5), Army Good Conduct Medal (3), National Defense Service Medal (2), Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device, NCO Professional Development (3), Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Member, U.S. Army Gold Recruiter Badge with 3 Sapphire Achievement Stars, and the U.S. Army Basic Recruiter Badge with 3 Gold Achievement Stars. She had attained the rank of Sergeant First Class (E-7).
Since Vasquez's discharge, she has received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from the University of Houston and a Masters of Arts in legislative affairs from the George Washington University. She is currently working as a Presidential Management Fellow.
Former Staff Sergeant David Hall, US Air Force
David is a former U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant. He joined the Air Force on March 6, 1996, following in the footsteps of his father and step-father, who each served over 20 years in the Air Force.
After basic training, Hall graduated from tech school with the second-highest score in his class and was assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia.
At Langley, Hall was one of the top airmen in his flight. He worked as a weapons loader, winning several loading competitions and the Airman of the Quarter award. While based at Langley, Hall did a three-month assignment in Saudi Arabia, and was handpicked to go to Kuwait to help fix aircraft.
David was also assigned to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron and Weapons Standardization Section. While at Elmendorf AFB, he was a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School (ALS).
After receiving a strong recommendation from his active duty commander, Hall was honorably discharged as an enlisted member from the Air Force in August 2001 following his acceptance to the Air Force ROTC in May 2001. At that time, Hall had served five years and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-5) with an Aircraft Armament Systems specialty.