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Family Matters Blog: Survey Seeks Feedback on Policy Change

By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2010 – Heather Forsgren Weaver of American Forces Press Service is a regular contributor to Family Matters. Heather's been heavily involved in this blog from the start. She edits, helps write and posts content on a daily basis.

In this blog, Heather writes about a survey of military spouses that seeks feedback on the possible repeal of the law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly.

Panel Wants Spouses' Opinions About Repeal

As part of a review of the implications of a possible repeal of the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, the Department of Defense is asking military spouses to weigh in.

The Defense Department mailed 150,000 surveys to military spouses just days after the deadline had passed for servicemembers to complete a survey on the subject. The survey responses, which are confidential, will be reviewed by a panel that is studying the issue for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The spouse survey should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, Army Gen. Carter F. Ham told the Pentagon Channel. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden wrote about the survey for American Forces Press Service in the article, "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Feedback Sought From Spouses." Secretary Gates appointed Ham to chair the panel studying the issue.

The spouse surveys were mailed to 80,000 reserve-component and 70,000 active-duty spouses.

The spouse survey "zeroes in" on family readiness, said Gen. Ham said. "We know there's a very real connection between family readiness and military readiness. We want to make sure we understand what that dynamic might be if the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy were to change."

"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," Gen. Ham said.

The survey is trying to gauge whether spouses will continue to support their servicemember staying in the military if the law changes.

"We know for our married servicemembers, the most important influence on whether or not that servicemember decides to continue his service is his spouse," Ham said.

The panel is using surveys to gauge reaction to the potential repeal because "time and financial constraints preclude meeting with every servicemember and spouse," Sgt. Carden wrote.

The deadline recently passed for 400,000 servicemembers, both active-duty and reserve, to complete a separate survey. Both surveys are confidential and personal information cannot be traced, Gen. Ham said.

For more information on the possible repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," please visit the American Forces Press Service Web special.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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