Stories From the Frontlines: Discharged, Called Back, Discharged Again
May 11th, 2010
Today’s letter to President Barack Obama urging repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” comes from Former Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Daniel Knight, U.S. Navy. Petty officer Knight signed up several months before 9/11 and became a member of the prestigious Ceremonial Guard in Washington, D.C., where he represented our country at official White House ceremonies and during state and military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He was a witness to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, which only solidified his desire to serve. Knight continues:
My desire to serve my country continued while I completed my training as a Hebrew Linguist and began working in the field at Fort Gordon, Georgia. But I was also struggling with my own self discoveries.
In 2004, I filed paperwork annulling my marriage because I realized that I was gay. Keeping with the Navy’s core values of honesty and integrity, and very much naive to the severity of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I provided the military with copies along with a written statement to my commander, which subsequently resulted in my discharge under the law.
I was ousted from the service I loved, facing a recoupment of $13,000 sign-on bonus I received, and ushered to the gate. I felt shunned, broken and confused.
After a year of recovery, I received a letter recalling me back to service. While I didn’t understand why, I had an overwhelming sense of joy to return to the service I so loved.
I was sent to Kuwait for a year with the U.S. Navy Customs Battalion Romeo in 2006 where I continued to garner accolades for my service and even upped in rank, all while serving completely open. My immediate commanders and colleges were aware that I had been discharged once under DADT and knew that I was gay, yet they supported me because I was a great sailor.
After the March 2007 comments by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he expressed his personal views of homosexuality as “immoral,” I decided to express my own personal feelings in a letter to the editor. This resulted in my second discharge under DADT, but I was willing to accept it.
You can read his full letter here. All of the letters from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s campaign are available here. The SLDN explains why they are publishing this series of letters from active and former servicemembers:
“Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama” is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law. We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal. The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk. It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993. By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes! We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.