JOINT STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE WILLIAM J. PERRY AND CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, GENERAL JOHN M. SHALIKASHVILI
Section 567 of S.1124, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, requires the separation from the armed forces of any member who is HIV-positive.
This provision will require the discharge of over 1000 service members who, although they have tested HIV-positive, are currently deemed fit to perform their duties. While non-deployable, they join other service members in that category.
To discharge all of these service members arbitrarily as section 567 mandates would be both unwarranted and unwise.
Section 567 is unnecessary as a matter of sound military policy because there is already in place a physical evaluation system to determine the fitness for duty of HIV-positive personnel.
Discharging service members deemed fit for duty would waste the government's investment in the training of these individuals and be disruptive to the military programs in which they play an integral role.
There are service members who suffer from diseases that make them non-deployable, but who are still permitted to serve their country so long as they meet uniform retention standards. Decisions on their retention are made on an individual basis in accordance with current regulations. Section 567 singles out those members who are HIV-positive and requires discharge regardless of their ability to perform. This violates a standard traditionally used by the services for retention and thus undermines a fair policy of evaluating retention on medical and service issues on an individual basis.