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MEI: Our First 6 Months

Update from the Military Education Initiative: Our
First Six Months

April 12, 2004

We launched the Military Education Initiative this
past December and have much to report about on our first
few months of educating veterans about the social science
research on the gays-in-the-military issue, as well
as about the lives and military service of America’s
one million gay and lesbian Vets.

Our efforts to reach out to Veterans Service Organizations
and Military Associations are succeeding and, indeed,
intensifying. We are finding widespread enthusiasm for
the idea of opening a civil dialogue within the broader
veteran’s community on this subject.

As you know, the social science data gathered in recent
years by the Center
for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military
(CSSMM) continues to steer the discussion and debate
about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in
a constructive direction.

Here are just a few of the many significant achievements
of our outreach efforts thus far:

  • Visited the National Defense University (NDU), in
    Washington, DC, in conjunction with CSSMM?s release
    of its historic study on the combat service of US
    military forces alongside Allied military forces,
    who do not have a gay ban, in the Iraq and Afghanistan
    Wars. Dr. Aaron Belkin, CSSMM’s Director, accompanied
    two openly gay British Naval Officers to NDU to conduct
    discussions about their combat experiences serving
    alongside US troops in the Iraq War.
  • Visited the United States Military Academy, at West
    Point. Dr. Belkin spoke to groups of students, faculty
    and staff at West Point about CSSMM’s research.
  • Published opinion pieces in newspapers including
    the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, Marine
    Corps Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Launched a public education campaign engaging Veterans
    with positive messages and images about the proud
    military service of gay and lesbian troops. Hundreds
    of education packets have been sent to all national
    veterans groups and military associations, and to
    many of their local chapters.
  • Distributed a resource guide containing sixty-four
    points and counter-points candidly addressing the
    most contentious aspects of the gay ban, including
    concerns about the privacy of heterosexual and homosexual
    troops. (Please click
    here
    to download a PDF version.)
  • Received national media attention regarding MEI’s
    formation and programmatic work. MEI has been featured
    on CNN, as well as in articles by the Associated Press,
    syndicated columnist Deb Price, and in newspapers
    and magazines across the country.
  • MEI has spoke before several local chapters of The
    American Legion.
  • Identified hundreds of Veterans from across America
    who are interested in gaining more insights into this
    important issue.

CSSMM has also launched a historic new study on the
experiences of US gay and lesbian troops serving in
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Nathaniel Frank,
Senior Research Fellow at CSSMM, is one of the nation’s
leading researchers on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Dr. Frank is seeking US troops, gay and straight, who
served – or who are still serving – in Iraq and Afghanistan
to participate in a study of their experiences during
the War in light of the military’s gay ban. Anonymity
is guaranteed. Dr. Frank is also seeking anonymous interviews
for his book on gays in the military and would like
to interview current and former troops who have served
in the US military since 1994. Dr. Frank can be reached
at nfrank4@nyc.rr.edu.

If you are interested in more information about MEI’s
efforts, or in scheduling a MEI speaker before your
veterans or military organization, please contact us.
We appreciate your willingness to think creatively about
the gays-in-the-military issue, and to consider the
helpful evidence generated by CSSMM’s research.

Thank you for your service to our nation,
Major Jeff Cleghorn, Esq.
U.S. Army, Retired