The cost of DADT: Major Almy’s story [Updated with video]

Updated

Major Mike Almy (Photo: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network)

Today Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Carl Levin (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Roland Burris (D-IL) introduced a bill to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Former Air Force Major Mike Almy, a guest on the show tonight, talked about losing his military career under the policy. These are his remarks in full: “Good morning. My name is Mike Almy, and I’m honored to be here today to tell you a little bit about my time serving in the Air Force under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and to make the case for why this law must be repealed. “I come from a family with a rich history of military service. My father is a West Point graduate, taught chemistry at the Air Force Academy, flew helicopters in Vietnam and ultimately retired as a senior officer from the air force. One of my uncles retired as a master gunnery sergeant from the Marine Corps with service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Another one of my uncles retired from the Army, also with service in Korea. “Inspired by my family’s commitment to public service and serving this great country in the military, I joined the Air Force in 1993 after graduating from Air Force ROTC as a distinguished graduate. When I was discharged because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2006, I had attained the rank of major and led a team of nearly 200 men and women whose mission it was to operate and maintain vital command and control equipment. During my career I deployed to the Middle East four times. In my last position in the Air Force, I led those 200 men and women in a deployment to Iraq, where my team came under daily mortar attacks as they were controlling the air space over Iraq. During this deployment I was named one of the top officers in my career field for the entire air force. “Shortly after I left Iraq, someone in the unit that had replaced mine found my private e-mails that I had written to family and friends in the stress of a combat zone. In Iraq during the height of the insurgency, the Air Force conducted a search of my private e-mails solely to determine if I had violated Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and to gather whatever evidence they could use against me. The search was conducted without ever once consulting with a lawer. My private e-mails were forwarded to my commander, who called me into his office and demanded that I give him an explanation. I refused. I told my commander I wouldn’t make any statement until I had first spoken with an attorney. “I was relieved of my duties leading nearly 200 airmen, my security clearance was suspended, part of my pay was terminated, and I was forced to endure a grueling 16-month legal ordeal before I was ultimately discharged from the Air Force. On my final day of active duty I was given a police escort from the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell failed me despite the fact that I lived up to the premises of this law and never disclosed my private, my private life. Never once in my 13-year career did I make a statement to the military that violated Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. During the legal proceedings that ensued after I was fired, I had several of my former troops write character reference letters for me. Without fail, every one of these troops had the greatest respect for me as an officer. They all wanted me back on the job as their leader, and they were horrified at how the Air Force was treating me. “What had a far greater impact on my unit’s mission, my unit’s cohesion, was the disruption of the mission after I was fired and subsequently replaced by a very junior officer who was not adequately prepared for the job. As a result, the mission suffered. “To say that this policy is working is to completely discredit my four deployments to the Middle East, my 13-year career as a decorated officer. To say that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is [working is] to completely discredit the service of the nearly 14,000 patriotic Americans who have been discharged under this law, the nearly 4,000 who choose not to reenlist each year because they no longer choose to live a lie as they defend our nation, and the untold thousands who never even choose to come into the military because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. “At a time when our military is stretched thin from two wars, we need the valuable service of every capable American willing to risk their life and to not be discharging people solely because of who they are. I’m outraged that I am now considered unfit for military service, and yet our nation has actively recruited convicted felons and brought them into the service of the military under moral waivers. It is time to strenghten our national defense by no longer wasting the valuable contributions of thousands of patriotic Americans. Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will end this discrimination, and America will be stronger and safer as a result. “I’d like to give a heartfelt thanks to Senators Lieberman and Levin and the rest of the distinguished senators here today for their leadership in repealing this, this discriminatory law. It is long overdue. Thank you.” ADDING: Video: Mike Almy talks with Rachel Maddow.

The cost of DADT: Major Almy's story [Updated with video]

Updated