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An MEI Welcome from Chief Petty Officer Patton

The Eighth Master Chief
Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

20 May 1998 – 10 October


Passion & Performance”



December 5, 2003


Dear Fellow Veterans:

am writing you as a veteran and retired military member of over 30
years of active service who cares deeply about our country and our
military. For my last four years of active duty, I had the pleasure
of serving as my Service’s senior ranking enlisted advisor,
the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, advising the Commandant
and top military and civilian leaders, including our President, on
quality of life, personnel matters and work environment issues affecting
more than 40,000 active duty, reserve and civilian members of the
U. S. Coast Guard. This position required me to be ‘upfront’
and personal with those who I served with on many issues and concerns.


a veteran, I know that many Americans have made great sacrifices to
protect our democracy and our values of fair play. This is why I want
to introduce you to the Military Education Initiative (MEI). MEI is
a new public education campaign beginning an honest and candid conversation
with veterans about the issue of gays in the military.


know this is a volatile political issue. Like many of you, I have
served on foreign soil, risking my life in defense of our nation’s
freedom. I do not believe that we veterans should support a policy
that denies to many of our fellow citizens the very liberties we placed
our lives on the line to defend. To appropriately quote the late Senator
Barry Goldwater, “You don’t need to be ‘straight’
to fight and die for your country; you just need to shoot straight!”


have had ten years of the “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell
” policy, and I believe we veterans now have a
special duty to lead in a thoughtful effort to reexamine the way our
nation views military service by Gay and Lesbian Americans.


encourage you and your fellow veterans to take a careful look at the
information provided by the Military Education Initiative. Thank you.


With respect for your service to our nation,



Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Retired