On the very same day the Pentagon
While actively supporting LGBTQ veterans, Donnie Ray Allen, a veteran of the Marine Corps, took a significant step in his personal life by enrolling in his first college course.
Allen, who is currently 47 years old, is currently working towards his undergraduate degree. This is a dream he had abandoned many years ago when he was released from the military without an honorable discharge, leaving him unable to access the necessary GI bill to fund his college education. He is one of many individuals who have successfully completed their degree at a later stage in life.
Countless military personnel were discharged due to their sexual orientation.
Previously, gay and lesbian individuals were prohibited from openly serving in the military due to their sexual orientation. However, the policy, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” has since been overturned.
Last year, CBS News interviewed Allen and discovered that he was still holding an other than honorable discharge, which made him ineligible for various benefits available to honorably discharged veterans. These benefits include healthcare, tuition assistance, VA loans, and certain federal jobs. However, with the assistance of a lawyer, Allen finally received an honorable discharge earlier this year. As a result, he was able to use his GI bill to complete his first semester of college this month. According to Allen’s interview with CBS News’ Jim Axelrod, this experience has significantly improved his life.
A recent investigation by CBS News revealed the consequences of receiving a dishonorable discharge and highlighted flaws in the military’s discharge review process. As a result, the Pentagon has announced that they will now actively review the records of veterans in order to potentially recommend an upgrade in their discharge status. This new initiative eliminates the need for veterans to personally apply for an upgrade, a process that is often unsuccessful without legal assistance according to both veterans and experts interviewed by CBS News. Additionally, the department has launched a website with resources specifically aimed at aiding LGBTQ+ veterans who believe they were unfairly discharged due to their sexual orientation.
dishonorably discharged for their sexual orientation and are now seeking to correct their records.
According to a spokesperson from the Department of Defense, they have started reviewing the records of approximately 2,000 veterans to determine if they are eligible for a discharge upgrade. After investigating, CBS News discovered a group of LGBTQ individuals who were expelled from the military due to their sexual orientation and are currently attempting to rectify their records.
More than 29,000 individuals were refused an honorable discharge.
Christie Bhageloe is the director of a nonprofit that helps veterans, including Allen, seeking discharge upgrades. She’s “cautiously optimistic” about the military’s new efforts.
Bhageloe stated that simply acknowledging the issue is a significant move in the right direction. Many veterans were still released due to misconduct, not specifically for being homosexual, so a thorough review by someone knowledgeable is necessary.
Following the broadcast of reports by CBS News, Bhageloe took on the situation of Amy Lambre, a former member of the Navy who was unjustly denied an honorable discharge, like Allen. In an interview with CBS News, Lambre expressed that this rejection always made her feel less deserving of honor. However, in the past month, she received notification that her honorable discharge had been granted, and Lambre no longer feels inadequate.
Allen is once again proud to be an American, a feeling he hasn’t experienced since his graduation from boot camp in 1994.
I felt a sense of pride as an American because our government is acknowledging us and recognizing that we are a valid reason for their actions.