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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Surveys Hit Servicemembers’ Inboxes

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2010 – At noon today, Defense Department officials e-mailed surveys to 400,000 servicemembers as part of a special review to prepare the military for a potential repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that bans gays and lesbians from openly serving, Pentagon officials announced today. Video

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, head the review panel that’s assessing the current law.

“The voice of the servicemembers is still vitally important,” the general said, noting that although amendments to the current law were approved by legislators in May, lawmakers still require the Pentagon review.

“This is draft regulation, it is not yet enacted into law, and there are several hurdles yet to come,” Ham said.

The group has been meeting with troops and family members since February. Surveys also were distributed because time and financial constraints precluded meeting with every single member, Ham explained in a recent Pentagon Channel interview.

The surveys will give the panel a baseline of information that best represents the military’s 2.2 million servicemembers and their families, Ham said, stressing the importance of servicemember feedback.

Engaging the force may be more important now than before the amendments were passed, Ham said.

Half of the surveys went to active-duty servicemembers, and half were sent to the reserve components. Troops who received the surveys were selected based on age, rank, service, component, military specialties, education, marital status and other factors to ensure broad and thorough feedback on a potential repeal, Ham said.

The working group also plans to continue meeting with servicemembers and families, Ham said. He and Johnson have met with troops at “a large variety of bases, posts, camps and stations around the country,” the general said, adding that they’re planning to meet with troops stationed overseas as well.

Such sessions have proven invaluable to the working group, Ham added.

“What these sessions do afford is an opportunity for Mr. Johnson and myself to speak directly to servicemembers, to hear in their own words what their assessment of the impact of repeal of the current law would be should Congress decide to take that action,” he said. “Those sessions provide us context. They provide us substance to what we know we will get statistically from the survey and put it in real terms of how real servicemembers feel about this.”

An online inbox also is available for military and civilian members of the Defense Department. Troops can log into http://www.defense.gov/dadt with their common access card to provide their input. This site is not confidential; however, directions from the site, as well as in the survey, are provided for members who wish to continue a “confidential dialogue” with non-Defense Department members of the working group, the general said.

Once servicemembers enter the confidential site, they will be given an untraceable PIN number they then can use to log on from any computer.

This tool will allow gay and lesbian servicemembers to remain anonymous and establish confidential communication, Ham explained. It’s available to all servicemembers, he added, because some may not feel comfortable providing candid remarks.

“It is vitally important that servicemembers continue to be open and frank and totally honest with us in their feedback,” Ham said. “That certainly has been the case to date, whether it’s been a large-group session or a small group or the online inbox. The servicemembers and their families have been invaluable to Mr. Johnson and myself.

“We need that to continue in order to do our jobs and be representative of the force as we address the significant policy matters that would follow repeal of this law, if that is what Congress decides to do,” the general said.

Also, 150,000 surveys will be mailed to military spouses by the end of the month, Ham said. Ham stressed the importance of promptly completing and returning the surveys. The hope, he said, is that that all of the surveys will be submitted within 45 days of receipt, he said.

The working group’s final report is due to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by Dec. 1.


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Related Sites:
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Online Inbox
Special Report: Policy Review: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'


Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

8/3/2010 4:08:55 PM
I think the military is fine were its at now, if you allow gay rights then i might be worried about when and where i SHOWER!!!! gay rights will only make military member fight about it. im for NO gay rights! keep the dont ask dont tell law...
- cpl - Marines, camp pendleton

8/2/2010 7:22:15 AM
What Guard/Reserve unit are you in that you don't have a CAC card???? CAC cards have been a REQUIREMENT for the Reserves for AT LEAST 3 years if not more. I've had mine so long I can't even remember when I got my first one.

8/1/2010 11:04:47 AM
I can't believe that a survey has to be conducted to get input from service members on lifting the ban on gays in the military. Did a survey have to be conducted in the past for equal treatment of women or blacks in the military? Of course NOT! furthermore to extend the survey to family members as well??? what the heck? It's high time to do what is right and lift the ban!
- Jim, Minneapolis, MN

7/30/2010 9:24:31 AM
Why didn't I get a survey?
- mary, missouri

7/28/2010 7:29:06 PM
The Dont Ask Dont Policy should NOT be revoked. We are already stretched to our limits as Soldiers and all this does is add stress and conflict throughout the ranks. The military is not for everyone and I'm all about freedom of choice, just not in our work force. Its my understanding Obama never served so how can he revoke a policy he doesnt understand the reasoning behind. The military says NO.
- SSG Drill Sergeant, Fort Leonard Wood

7/28/2010 1:01:33 AM
I believe that things are just fine the way they are. Gay people definately aren't any diffrent than anyone else and they very much deserve the same rights any one else has, however, think of the concequences in the military life... battle buddie system, roomates, open bay, field environment, open showers ect. I believe it makes a lot of diffrence when one's privacy is kept to themselves because not everyones is comfortable arround gay people. If anything should change it should probably be the fact that no one should get in trouble for their sexual preference... If you're gay that's completely ok, just keep it to yourself to avoid any dilemas as far as military life is concerned.
- Daisy, Korea

7/27/2010 9:24:21 AM
I am currently stationed in Afghanistan,, and the Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy still stands. I have been in the Active Army for 4 years now, and believe me if someone is Gay you will know if they want you too. And Gays don't care who knows even if they are in the Military. I feel that if the Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy is taken away it will just cause more people getting their feelings hurt, problems, and more fights in the Military. The only thing that could be changed that would make a difference is if someone does come out, then no action can be taken. Things are good the way they are. I think if the Policy changes there will be girls and guys walking around holding hands and kissing in front of people. ANd that is not what the Army is all about. If the Policy stays then they want come out period and that is what needs to happen. If you are gay then ok you are gay no one else needs to know but your partener. PERIOD
- Soldier, Afghanistan

7/27/2010 6:44:12 AM
I believe if your willing to give up your freedom for the country then you should be able to be who you are. People discriminate everyday in the military and that will never stop. People that have the issues with it are the ones that cause problems in the work place because they are judging them before they even get to know them. Lesbians and gays aren't looking at the same sex and thinking that they want to have relations with everybody. I am sorry but they do have standards and don't any tpye of relations with everyone in their eye site. They are out there saving lives everyday so they should live the life that the choose/want/born to live. America is supposed to be a "free country" but thats not true. I hate to say it but there are many people "out" in the military anyway so by giving up the policy you can let their family actually be apart of their lives and to me that is the best thing anyone could ever ask for.
- ashley, korea

7/27/2010 2:18:44 AM
For all those people who think DADT is a sound policy because work should just be work, well I ask how many of you NEVER mention your spouse, your home life, etc? How many of you ask a fellow member how things are going at home or with the kids in the course of nice, professional conversation? Asking homosexuals to keep mum on something most of us wouldn't last 10 minutes...well, its just hipocrosy. Not to mention DADT flies in the face of numerous briefings Iwe've all heard regarding mental health and keeping open lines of communication to prevent depression, domestic abuse, job satisfaction, etc. DADT is just outdated in so many ways.
- Jennifer, DC

7/25/2010 6:48:32 PM
I notice that there is a lot of comparing blacks and discrimination to that of gays and lesbians. There is no comparison in the choice an individual makes with regards to his or her sexual orientation to that of the indiscriminate practices which saw the deaths of thousands if not millions of blacks because they were considered as property and not human beings. If when making you case for why you must be accepted as a member of society I would ask that if you have not met the struggles of my anncestors respect their plight as their own and not yours. The commitment we make to our country should not be about one's gender but whether he or she can serve in the capacity for which they joined. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Self-less Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage should be a Soldiers primary focus. Again it's a volunteer Army you are not forced to be there.
- Philip C.. Parham, Ft. Stewart / Retired

7/25/2010 12:26:26 PM
I will have 26 years total service in Dec. 2010, If the DADT is reversed I will ask for my discharge..I will not serve with these people (knowely anyway) I also believe with all my heart that it would be the demise of our military. God would no longer keep us in his protective grace. Our millitary men and women will die at the hands of our enemy.
- greg, Tn.

7/24/2010 12:37:28 AM
I really don't need to know if you are gay or not,as long as you just get the job done. I like the policy don't ask and don't tell the last thing I need is to be looking over my shoulder when I taking a shower.
- cesar , Alaska

7/22/2010 5:42:31 PM
I reminded the sexual harassment point to a supervisor of mine, who responded with (paraphrase) "But guys can't accuse another guy of harassment, it brings about questions of their manhood." If that turns out to be the case, then these guys should think about why their ego is so sensitive. Professionally, I don't think it's a functional attitude for a 21st century environment. This is especially true in jobs that require a certain level of sophistication and a mature ability to analyze; for instance with IT fields or linguistics and many others. - Randy, USN, MD
- Randy, MD

7/22/2010 5:39:59 PM
The public is mature enough for this conversation in more areas now than we were 17 years ago. That doesn't mean we couldn't benefit by striving to be even more mature. For those who are against interacting with gay folks, they should know they already have, numerous times. A member sailor/soldier/marine will always be subject to possibility an accusation of sexual harrassment, if they forget about professional conduct and act in way that offends someone else's professional standards of conduct. - Randy, USN, MD
- Randy, Maryland

7/19/2010 2:19:46 PM
Gays are free to serve now, just as heterosexuals are free to serve. The issue ISN'T whether they can serve or not. The issue is whether everyone else has to KNOW they are gay and are FORCED to ACCEPT they are gay. THAT is the issue. The great thing about DADT is that I don't NEED to know and gays SHOULDN'T be telling me. Serve with honor and dignity in our Armed Forces, but there is no honor nor dignity in telling anyone that you are gay.
- Joe, CS, CO

7/17/2010 11:00:48 PM
DADT is a sound policy. I've served faithfully for 24 years and never met a homosexual. Why? Because I don't NEED to know they are homosexuals. THAT is the whole problem. They want us to, not just acknowledge, but openly accept their abhorrent lifestyle choice, and it is absolutely a choice. God says homosexuality is not just a sin, but an abomination. So if God doesn't like homosexuality, why should I? If homosexuals want to serve, fine, but I should never have to accept their sexual choice and I should never know their sexual choice. I didn't go around telling the people I worked with how many women I slept with, or that I was a flaming heterosexual. Same concept for homosexuals. I don't want to know, I don't need to know, and they shouldn't be telling me in the first place.
- Joe, CO

7/16/2010 3:54:06 PM
As noted in some of the earlier comments, the requirement of CAC access effectively prevents Guard and Reserve personnel from participating in the survey. Could DoD make the site accessible using AKO/DKO username and password? It is good to see that the DoD is requesting comments from servicemembers on this issue, though.
- John T. Flippen, Baldwin, NY

7/14/2010 5:22:22 AM
For those of you that require a diagram. The military has been asked to fill out this survey because they want to know if there is going to be a mass exodus from the military. I'm sure there are people with alternative reasons. that is why there is no protection clause if you fill it out. But use your heads if they think they will loose the majority of the military because of this even the democrats wont vote for it. They wont have to worry about the republicans trying to vote it down.
- jeanette cummings, WA.

7/12/2010 12:05:15 PM
This is a great tool and I'm very happy that we are using our technology to listen to the voices of military. As a member of the Reserves, I agree that the CaC requirement makes it very hard for the Reserve Forces to have their say in the matter.
- Jeff, Phoenix, AZ

7/11/2010 6:44:11 PM
After seeing some of the survey questions that have been leaked, I'm outraged that our government is going to take blatantly leading questions such as how a service member would feel taking a shower with a gay/ lesbian coworker as legitimate data for moving forward with legislation that ultimately concerns rights of a group of people based on their sexual orientation. Questions on someone's comfort level has no place in this survey. Imagine if the words "African American" were substituted for "gay/lesbian" in these questions! I'm embarrassed our country has not made more progress on these civil rights issues. I urge the DoD to look at the results of this survey with extreme caution.
- Kylie, Chicago

7/9/2010 4:58:50 PM
since we seem to be in the mode of nondiscrimation why is this even an issue. Does the military really believe that this is something new. Many have served this country and well I might add. It is in the very top to the very bottom. What does the navy do about the sex that goes on while they are at sea for months at a time. Oh that's right they are not gay please tell me why you are wasting your time and the tax payers money on all this. If you discharged all the gay people I wonder how many would be left to die. Just repeal it and lets get back to watching our people die for countries who don't even want us there. Other countries have gay people and I never heard of their being any problems. While we are at it why not stop woman .What do you do about the rapes that are reported. And lets go back to having only black units so they don't upset the whites. This is American the land of the free. If they can die for us they can serve with out the fear of a discharge.
- barbara, NC

7/8/2010 3:12:29 PM
I just want to know, did we survey servicemen when we integrated the military?
- David , Philadelphia

7/8/2010 3:02:07 PM
Since when does the military gather input from soldiers on such a policy change? Since never. White soldiers were never asked if they would be OK to serve, sleep, or shower with Black soldiers. This seems to be a ploy to delay or obstruct the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
- Pati, Illinois

7/8/2010 1:44:18 PM
Honestly, enough is enough. DADT is a slap in the face to the men and women who fight of us- especially the gay men and women. Soldiers are trained to be a team nad get the job done- most of them will tell you, they aren't worried if the guy next to them is gay. They are too busy hoping he'll do his job. Gays are in the military all over the world- without problem. Our soldiers aren't a laughingstock, but the generals and top brass who are trying to keep DADT in place assuredly are.Keep religious fundamentalism and bigotry out of the military. Repeal DATD. Grow up.
- Debora, New York

7/8/2010 12:53:52 PM
Why must Americans who are risking their life for freedom require permission, acceptance, agreement, approval, understanding, tolerance or respect to serve if they are not considered to be heterosexual? Why isn't the fact that they are Americans enough of a reason for them to be unconditionally constitutionally protected to remain in this well organized militia, if they have shown to be competent at their jobs in the military? While they are fighting the Taliban, why is the military punishing them for being who they are just as the Taliban does to the Afghani citizens? I hope this survey is not going to be used as an excuse to continue denying Americans who want to serve this country their Second Amendment rights to continue serving in our well organized militia. They have the right to serve because they are Americans, and how they look, what they believe, or how they love must never be used to deny them their rights as Americans.
- Jessica Weiss, New York

7/8/2010 9:35:07 AM
When did the military become a democracy? We support it; we fight for it; but we do not practice it. Or at least until now it seems. And as for its anonymity, there's never been a military-survey where they could not ferret you out. After filtering the gender, hometown, your rank, service, and other details, you are identified. My opinion? With the hotel-like barracks (and by that I don't mean luxury; only that the troops have individual or 2-man rooms) I say anyone who has a deep desire to fight and stand up for this nation should be allowed to wear the uniform, gay, lesbian, tall, skinny, yellow, black, orange, or white.
- Danny Chung, Washington DC

7/8/2010 9:32:28 AM
ex-vietnam vet here age 58. I can't believe this is even happening. Since when does the military get to vote on policy? Lawmakers have foisted this embarrassment upon the military. This is like asking a bunch of cops if they will work with criminals. Another waste of taxpayer dollars IMO.
- mtazman, Boston

7/8/2010 1:23:13 AM
The corruption of morals of a sociaty is the precursor of its eventual downfall. Plese read history! I have nothing against homosexuals, but I truly believe that they can best serve our Nation in other endeavors and not on the one that, must certainly, will weaken our Country through our soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors. God Bless Our United States of America and The Republic For Which it Stands.
- Robert F. Ravelo, Tampa, Florida

7/7/2010 5:15:51 PM
It is good that the military is seeking input from its service members on this topic. I would be interested to see how the results will turn out by the different demographics. Ultimately, the decision will be with Congress but this seems to be a very good effort to give our representatives the information they need to make an informed decision.
- John, DINFOS

7/7/2010 5:07:15 PM
Requiring CAC access to the http://www.defense.gov/dadt website effectively prevents Guard and Reserve soldiers from accessing it. Is this really so sensitive that it requires this level of security?
- James Sullivan, Las Cruces, NM

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