Editorial Column: Army’s Continued Use of ‘Stop Loss’ Policy Reveals Failure of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Market Watch

October 27, 2008 – Today, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) criticized the U.S. Army’s continued use of “stop loss” as further evidence that the discharge of over 12,500 service members based on sexual orientation since 1993 under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” undermines military readiness.

“The continued use of stop loss illustrates how the discharge of over 12,500 qualified service members under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has greatly strained military readiness at a time when our armed forces are already stretched far too thin around the globe,” said SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ undermines the military’s ability to attract qualified personnel of all backgrounds in order to keep pace with increasing deployment needs.”
A story in today’s USA Today ( http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2008-10-26-stoploss_N.htm) demonstrates how “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” contributes to the strain of our military by continuing the need for involuntary extensions of combat duty, a policy known as “stop loss.” Acknowledged by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a burden to troops and their families, the number of soldiers impacted by stop loss rose to about 12,000 this March due to the troop buildup in Iraq and the extension of Army tours from 12 to 15 months. The Army is expected to continue relying on stop loss through 2009.

In fact, the number of soldiers impacted by stop loss each month is approximately the same as the number of service members who have been discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – over 12,500. The number of service members discharged under this discriminatory law also roughly equals the number of service members that commanders in Afghanistan are seeking to add to the 32,000 troops already on the ground. Additionally, nearly 45,000 more Americans would have served in the armed forces, but have been discouraged from joining and remaining in the military due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (Williams Institute, 2007).

“Today’s report underscores that the time to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as a failed, unjust law is long overdue,” Sarvis said.

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