The Camo Closet

A reader writes:

I've been reading all the comments from both sides regarding abolishing DADT  and I wanted to share my two cents worth.

I am a 58 year old gay American Vietnam era veteran who served with the U.S. ARMY from April of 1970 to April 1972.  I was drafted and if I'd had my wish - I would have enlisted in the Air Force. I did my basic at Fort Ord in California where I was a squad leader with like 10-12 guys under me.  From there I was shipped to Fort Hood, Texas for the remainder of my 2 year stint. My MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) was military police. By the time I arrived at Fort Hood, Tx., most of my close buddies knew of my gayness and were ok with it.

I had one incident when this short, very drunk kid yanked me out of my bunk and kinda pushed me and then let loose with a short burst of "faggot, etc, etc." He then stormed out of  the barracks and later that evening I was sitting on the steps and he walked up to me and apologized for being a jerk and that was the last and only time that these supposed "lower class, unsophisticated, red neck" kids ever bothered me.  If anything, I was protected and left alone.  Back then we had open showers and toilets--no privy stalls/partitions and no one seemed to mind this tall, skinny, gay guy showering alongside them.  If anything, I was hit on on a few occasions and yes I took advantage of the opportunity. 

Now some 40 years later, my nephew, a Marine drill Sargent with 3 tours in Iraq tells me that he personally knows Marines who are gay and so afraid of being found out that they are forced to do the dishonorable thing and lie about their sexuality and date girls just to fit in. i\I can't imagine the stress and sadness these young men go through just to be able to serve in the Marines and serve their country.