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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Feedback Sought From Spouses

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

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2010 – Pentagon officials today mailed out 150,000 new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” surveys, this time seeking input from military spouses about the potential repeal of the law that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly, officials said.

“We understand the inextricable link between the families, servicemembers and readiness, and this survey is a way to try to better understand that,” Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Europe commander, said in a recent Pentagon Channel interview.

Ham and Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, were appointed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to head a special review panel that’s studying the possible implications on the military should Congress decide to repeal the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly.

“What we’re trying to gauge is an assessment that if this law is repealed, and this ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy is changed, what will that mean to our families?” Ham said. “By better understanding the impacts of possible repeal, we’ll be able to craft policies, procedures, education and training to address those issues.”

The group has been meeting with troops and family members since February. The surveys are important to the panel’s research, Ham added, because time and financial constraints preclude meeting with every servicemember and spouse.

The surveys give the panel a baseline of information that best represents the military’s 2.2 million servicemembers and their families, the general said. Last month, 400,000 surveys were e-mailed to active duty and reserve-component troops throughout the force. The deadline for their response was Aug. 15.

The spouse survey is somewhat different from the one taken by the servicemembers, Ham said, noting the spouse survey is not as lengthy or comprehensive, and it “zeroes in” on family readiness.

Also, he added, the spouse survey is a hard-copy form, rather than the digital e-mail form troops received. It should take spouses about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, he said.

“We know there’s a very real connection between family readiness and military readiness,” Ham said. “We want to make sure we understand what that dynamic might be if the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy were to change.”

The spouse survey responses, like those of the servicemembers’ survey, are confidential, the general said.

Ham emphasized that the surveys and responses for both groups can’t be traced. The company managing the survey distribution and results-gathering is not a Defense Department organization and “does not have access to personally identifiable information to military members,” he explained.

Feedback from military spouses is an important aspect in the review, Ham said. The panel wants to know if spouses will be less likely to support their servicemember continuing his service if the law changes, Ham said.

“We know for our married servicemembers, the most important influence on whether or not that servicemember decides to continue his service is his spouse,” he said. “So we need to know what the effects would be if the law was changed.”

The spouse surveys were mailed to 80,000 reserve-component and 70,000 active duty spouses. The spouses will have a little more than 30 days to complete and return their surveys, Ham said.

For spouses who weren’t selected, but want to offer their opinion on the potential impact of repeal, Ham suggested using the online inbox at http://www.defense.gov/dadt. The site is not confidential and requires a military common access card to log on. The online inbox will be available until Aug. 30. This tool will allow anyone who didn’t receive the survey to offer feedback and remain anonymous.

“We know that for our married servicemembers, their spouses’ views, the spouses’ satisfaction with the quality of service and the family readiness directly attributes to military readiness,” the general said. “Secretary Gates was focused at the very start to make sure that we understood what impact a possible repeal would mean to our family members.”


Contact Author

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham

Related Sites:
Special Report: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Video Message from Army Gen. Carter F. Ham


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.

9/17/2010 7:05:59 PM
Seriously, what does it matter what any of us think about this.. they are going to do what they want anyway.. it is all part of "The Change"..
- Kalena, TN

8/29/2010 2:50:26 PM
I know that there are many differnt people in the military and talking with some of the guys whom work with my husband, many really could care less about the don't ask, don't tell rule. The reason they like it is because being on a submarine with the same group of guys for months on end its a comfort thing really. They don't want to know if the guy whom they have befriended is really intrested in them in such a fashion, so they personally prefer this rule. Personally I believe that if it doesn't affect the work or how they do their job then it doesn't really matter what thier prefernce in partners is. They are like everyone else, they work hard and contribute thier time and knowlege. So to me it is alittle extreme to reject someone over something so trivial. If they can do the job well then the rest shouldn't matter.
- Kristen, Virginia

8/29/2010 12:08:05 PM
What happens to someone who says they feel uncomfortable with a gay soldier as a roommate or with showering with gay soldiers? Will that person be prosecuted for a hate crime? Will new barracks need to be created to accommodate openly gay soldiers? Would this decision compromise the mission of our military? If we look to our founding fathers for their opinions on the subject, you'd find that General George Washington had an openly gay soldier drummed out of the camp publicly for being caught with his gay partner. Washington apparently thought that openly gay soldiers compromised the mission. Also, how will this federal decision influence state laws about homosexuality? Will states rights be upheld? Careful consideration needs to be paid to this decision because it will have a MAJOR affect our nation.
- Charlotte, Williamsburg, VA

8/29/2010 8:51:20 AM
I'm a military spouse and I too did not receive a survey. I don't have a problem with gay and lesbian people serving in the military, but why does it have to be "OPEN"? Do I go around telling people I'm heterosexual? Do I have public displays of affection with my wife...NO! I think Don't Ask Don't Tell should become even broader and make it a rule for sexualities in the military. There's no place for sexual discussion or relationships in the workplace, so ban it all together.
- Jim, Europe - KMC

8/27/2010 7:11:01 PM
Wish they would have sent me a survey.. actually I don't know anyone who got one, and many of us would have LOVED to respond. I wonder what criteria they used to select spouses, because it sure wasn't anyone around here! We are not new to the military, and I am certianly not a new spouse.. Quite honestly I don't care who he serves with as long as they can do their job and keep their command safe. I'd rather him spend 24/7 with a gay man who can do his job really well, than with a straight guy who can't get stuff done with any degree of efficacy or safety.

8/27/2010 5:03:59 PM
I totally agree with Jessica, im not worried about the gay/lesbians working overseas, its the straight women i am worried about. And not being able to see my spouse for a year, just makes the temptation that much stronger for him.
- Stacy, KY

8/26/2010 8:15:10 PM
I think its stupid...why survey us? Everyone automatically think when they hear "Gay" it is sexual..they need to love someone, they want children. They are people to, they have to work and support their family. If they want to be in the military they should be if they want to say they are gay that's fine, if they don't that should be fine to...Yes I took the survey and said exactly thiis in the comment section.
- Hazel, Hawaii

8/26/2010 6:25:39 PM
To me it doesn't matter if gays and lesbians serve openly or not. But thier safety, espcially for a gay guy, would be a big conceren. Men in the military can be very critical and violent when they find out a guy is gay, but for women it is completely different.
- Sunny, Japan

8/26/2010 3:36:53 PM
Where's the survey that says I'm concerned about my spouse deploying with a pretty girl? Geez, I think I'd worry a lot more about that than if he deployed with a gay guy! How stupid! I'll be checking the mail to see if I am one of the lucky spouses to recieve the survey. I'd like to fill it out and say that I have NO issues with gays/lesbians working with my spouse. They're there to work and do a job, they're not dating!
- Jessica, MD

8/26/2010 2:41:57 PM
It's great that there is a place for spouses who did not receive the survey to go to offer their opinion. HOWEVER, spouses do not have a CAC. Hopefully the statement above was in error. Otherwise, this link is of no use to those spouses who are not also government employees.
- L, Virginia

8/24/2010 4:02:52 PM
Speaking directly concerning the military, I believe it would be totally wrong to categorize our armed forces as a class, an order, or a division branch, or a grouping or an understanding of a 'club' you join. It does not collect dues for membership. It is rather, a close cohesion, a solidness and firmness and compactness and inseparability of the highest density. Never should this be compromised. Thank you very much, T C Hughes, WWII veteran
- T. C. Hughes, Houston, TX.

8/24/2010 2:21:13 AM
Are you going to survey the Same-Sex spouses also? I know you are not, but please visit these websites and their Facebook pages to hear from those spouses. It's a shame what this DADT policy puts those civilians through. here's just a few to get you started. ServiceMembersUnited.org OutServe.org MilitaryPartners.org youtube.com This policy as enforced is a violation and denial of Free Speech under the Constitution. Yes, we are preparing that court battle if/when needed. Ben Alley, Lt Col, USAF, Retired.
- Lt Col B Alley, USAF RET, Columbus OH

8/23/2010 10:33:03 PM
Negative comments come mostly from the religious right. It's a DNA embedded in some Americans. But our country honors separation of church & state. If NATO countries can utilize the services of talented of Lesbian, Gay, Transgender personnel successfully, why can't the USA? The prime example is a decorated lieutenant colonel, USAF, now investigated because someone with a grudge outed him. What kind of personnel management would kickk out a talented aviator who sexual orientation hasn't negatively affected his unit one bit? Only someone from the religious right. It's time to come into the 21st Century!
- Keith H. Kerr, California

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