Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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On Sept. 20, 2011, the military repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the policy that had prohibited gays and lesbians from openly serving in the armed forces. The repeal followed President Barack Obama’s Dec. 22, 2010 signing of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which reversed the 1993 DADT law (10 U.S.C. §654).

The repeal means gays and lesbians can no longer be separated from the military solely because of their sexual orientation. The military can also no longer prevent someone from serving or being admitted into the armed forces because of their statements about sexual orientation or lawful homosexual conduct.

The repeal has opened many doors for many of the estimated 14,000 former service members who were separated under DADT since 1993. Depending on the circumstances of their separations under DADT, some gay or lesbian former service members may be eligible to do the following:

  • Recommence their careers the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard;
  • Complete the service time necessary to qualify for retirement benefits;
  • Upgrade their discharge;
  • Erase from their military record the stigma associated with a separation under DADT; or
  • Become eligible for certain veteran benefits, such as those associated with the Montgomery G.I. Bill.

Right now, any attempts to change the military records of former service members separated under DADT are cases of first impression, which means there is no precedent. Gay and lesbian former service members are blazing their own trail. Anyone who is about to take on this challenge need to beware and be prepared. Don’t just find a lawyer and expect everything will be taken care of. Former service members need someone who knows military law inside and out. A lawyer with little to no knowledge of military law will get lost in this post-DADT environment.

The military law attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC have several decades of combined experience in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, and our founding partner is the only known civilian attorney to currently serve in the Army Reserves as a lieutenant colonel.

Schedule a meeting with one of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s military law attorneys today by calling 5182187100 or e-mailing info@tullylegal.com

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Re-enlistment

Former service members discharged solely under DADT can seek reentry into the military. As a Jan. 28, 2011 Undersecretary of Defense memorandum states, former service members will be “evaluated according to the same criteria and Service requirements applicable to all prior Service members seeking reentry into the military at that time.”

Prior to policy’s repeal, a DADT-related reenlistment code (“Re-Code”) on a former service member’s DD Form 214 could have barred him or her from re-entry. Re-Codes vary among the armed forces. However, according to the Jan. 28 memo, the services should waive Re-Codes on DD Form 214 stemming from separations under DADT and related implementing regulations. For example, MARADMIN 532/11 states Marines exclusively discharged under DADT with a Re-4 code “will be processed as any other re-accession under Marine Corps Policies.”

Former service members separated under DADT and wanting to reenlist may still experience problems reentering the uniformed services due to their Re-Code. The military law attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can assist gay and lesbian former service members with the following:

  • Preparation of an application and supporting documents for a Re-Code change request to a discharge review board.
    • The discharge must have occurred within the last 15 years, and the code was incorrect or unjust (DD Form 293 – Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States).
  • Representation before the:
    • Army Discharge Review Board;
    • Air Force Discharge Review Board;
    • Naval Discharge Review Board; and
    • Coast Guard Discharge Review Board.
  • Preparation of an appeal to an unfavorable discharge review board decision to a board of correction of military records (DD Form 149 – Application for Correction of Military Record).
  • Preparation of an application and supporting documents for a Re-Code change request to a board of correction of military services.
    • The discharge must have occurred more than 15 years ago, and the code was incorrect or unjust (DD Form 149 – Application for Correction to Military Record).
  • Representation before the:
    • Army Board of Correction and Military Records;
    • Air Force Board of Correction and Military Records;
    • Board for Correction of Naval Records; and
    • Coast Guard Board of Correction and Military Records.

Schedule a meeting with one of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s military law attorneys today by calling 5182187100 or e-mailing info@tullylegal.com.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Discharge Upgrade

Generally, service members separated under DADT received either an honorable or general (under honorable conditions) discharges. A general discharge could compromise a former service member’s ability to benefit from the Montgomery G.I. Bill. This discharge characterization could also impact the former service member’s ability to re-enlist. The military law attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC can assist gay and lesbian former service members with the following:

  • Preparation of an application and supporting documents for discharge upgrade request to a discharge review board.
    • The discharge must have occurred within the last 15 years, and its character was incorrect or unjust (DD Form 293 – Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States).
  • Representation before the:
    • Army Discharge Review Board;
    • Air Force Discharge Review Board;
    • Naval Discharge Review Board; andCoast Guard Discharge Review Board.
  •  Preparation of an appeal to an unfavorable discharge review board decision to a board of correction of military records (DD Form 149 – Application for Correction of Military Record).
  • Preparation of an application and supporting documents for a discharge upgrade request to a board of correction of military services.
    • The discharge must have occurred more than 15 years ago, and its character was incorrect or unjust (DD Form 149 – Application for Correction to Military Record).
  • Representation before the:
    • Army Board of Correction and Military Records;
    • Air Force Board of Correction and Military Records;
    • Board for Correction of Naval Records; and
    • Coast Guard Board of Correction and Military Records.

Schedule a meeting with one of Tully Rinckey PLLC’s military law attorneys today by calling 5182187100 or e-mailing info@tullylegal.com.

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