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Discharged gay troops put record straight

Discharged gay troops put record straight

A group which works with gay troops in the US has released a toolkit that could help thousands discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.

The US military policy banned lesbians, gays and bisexuals from serving openly in the armed forces. And its repeal has been welcomed by current gay servicemen and women. But the lifting of the ban also affects those who were drummed out of service under the rule.

In September 2011, the same month the 17-year-old policy ended, the US Defense Department released information informing discharged veterans they could seek corrections to their records. Such changes to official documents can impact Veteran Administration benefits and employment. The organization estimates as many as 100,000 veterans may qualify for such assistance.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization that works with gay troops, recently put on its website a toolkit to assist troops who were discharged because of sexuality.

‘Cleaning up these records is an important piece of restoring dignity and honor to these American patriots and closing the books on this shameful piece of our history. SLDN stands ready to assist all those who seek our help,’ said the network’s executive director Aubrey Sarvis.

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was originally put in place by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It ruled that gay sailors and soldiers were not to be discriminated against, but LGBT troops could not openly discuss their orientations. According to SLDN more than 14,000 troops were discharged since the system was put in place.