All Hands on Deck
All Hands on Deck
As Lt. Dan Choi is asked to return to his unit, thousands of other service members wait for the military to reopen the doors to their future.
Original News Source: http://www.advocate.com/News/News_Features/All_Hands_On_Deck/
After Army National Guard lieutenant Dan Choi came out on The Rachel Maddow Show in
March of 2009, the West Point graduate become the face of the movement
to repeal the military's “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. His story
galvanized 141,000 people to sign a petition, urging the military board
he faced in June of that year to allow him to keep his job as an Arabic
linguist in an infantry unit. Even with the outcry, Choi's hearing
board, which did not have final say over the matter, recommended to his
commander that he be discharged.
But in February, just two weeks after President Barack Obama called for the repeal of DADT in his State of the Union speech, Choi got a call from his commanding officer — Choi was asked to rejoin his infantry unit.
"It was such a happy moment," Choi says. "It was like coming home for Thanksgiving, especially since I didn't go home for the holidays ... my parents haven't been taking all of this very well."
Choi was never formally handed discharge papers, but his story resonates with more than 13,000 who have been ejected from the military since DADT was enacted in 1993. While many of those veterans have moved on to new careers, some hope to return to the military.
Alex Nicholson, executive director of the group Servicemembers United, says that since his discharge in 2002 from the Army, he's earned a bachelor’s degree, a master's degree, and a PhD., and he is now the head of a lobbying effort to repeal DADT. Still, he says, he would be eligible to reenlist — he like many others ejected under the law, was honorably discharged — and would return to the armed services in a heartbeat.