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
- Identified hundreds of Veterans from across America
who are interested in gaining more insights into this
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 [email protected].
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