Yesterday we looked at the case of Todd Belok, the gay George Washington University freshman who was removed from the Navy ROTC just months after joining. Today, we’ll head westward to Topeka, Kansas where Iraq war veteran Amy Brian was removed not because anyone in the military had a problem with her, but because a civilian did.
Amy was a member of the Kansas National Guard Reserve for a total of nine years, first from 1991-1994, then re-enlisting in 2003. In 2004 she shipped out to Iraq.
Brian worked 12-hour shifts on a vehicle maintenance crew. Later, she was assigned to narrate award ceremonies, write evaluations and perform office work. She did not see combat, but she did see Iraqi children in the camp hospital being treated for injuries that included missing limbs from roadside bombs.
According to Amy, everyone knew she was a lesbian when she was in Iraq. It was an open secret, one that nobody seemed to have a problem with. Nobody, that is, until three years after she returned home in 2005.
“I’d never really tried to hide my homosexuality to the close people I worked with,” she said. “And they didn’t really seem to care or think any different of it.”
But in August 2008, a Kansas Army National Guard lieutenant informed Brian she was being investigated for homosexual conduct after a female civilian co-worker at the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office said she had seen Brian kissing a woman in the checkout line at a Wal-Mart store.
From the moment the co-worker made her statement, Brian’s performance record and the sacrifices she had made to serve her country in Iraq no longer mattered.
Just so we’re clear: Amy Brian was not outed during her 12+ month stretch in Iraq. She was not outed by military personnel, many of whom already knew that she was a lesbian. She was outed after she returned to Kansas by a co-worker who has a problem with The Homosexuals kissing.
Brian said the effort to remove her from the Guard started with a barrage of anonymous e-mails referencing her sexual orientation and a networking Web site where her photo was posted. The e-mails were sent to her chain of command, including the Kansas Adjutant General’s Office.
According to the Kansas City Star, the person sending the emails was not Amy’s coworker. This was another person whose identity she still doesn’t know.
Watson said the separation process began when Brian waived her right to a board hearing. Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the Kansas adjutant general, signed off on the separation in December, and the separation became effective Jan. 13.
Brian received a “general under honorable conditions” discharge, Watson said. As a result, she lost all of her benefits, including educational assistance and discounts.
Maag said Brian was given a low re-entry code, which would make it easier for her to re-enlist in the military if the “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy is changed.
Several things to point out here. First, Amy waived her right to a board hearing, according to the Kansas City Star, to remove the possibility of a dishonorable discharge. Because she was given a general discharge, her master’s degree had to be put on hold.
Again, this had nothing to do with Amy Brian’s service record during her nine years in the Guard. No one has impugned her service, nor have any service personnel objected to her presence in their unit. This has happened wholly and solely because Amy Brian is a lesbian, and an uninvolved anonymous person outside the US Military complained.
I’ll close this post with one more point from Amy Brian, one that proponents of DADT should give some thought.
Most of all, she has had a difficult time rectifying the discharge in her mind. She said she served with heterosexual soldiers who were found guilty of adultery, sexual harassment, and credit card fraud and received disciplinary actions instead of discharges.
She worked with civilians â€” including her accuser â€” whose jobs were protected by laws guaranteeing they couldn’t be fired because of their sexual orientation.