Navy Department officials are urging the thousands of sailors and Marines forced out of the military because of their sexuality in previous decades to come forward and appeal their discharge — in a step to restore benefits and right a historical wrong.
The Board for Correction of Naval Records can overturn a wide range of records, from counseling letters to detachments for cause, but recently they have been putting the word out to veterans who were separated because of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — and its previous across-the-board ban — that they can have their discharges upgraded and their reenlistment codes or reason codes changed to reflect a post-DADT world.
In general, BCNR can consider requests to upgrade discharges all the way down to dishonorable, but Thompson said most sexuality-related discharges were honorable or general under honorable conditions, which entitle veterans to all or most benefits.
The easiest cases to overturn are those where a veteran was discharged simply for being gay. If misconduct also came into play, it would be more complicated, but still worth pursuing.
U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Kurt Chew-Een Lee was the first U.S. Marine Corps officer of Chinese descent. During the Korean War, Lee, a Marine Corps Lieutenant back then, and his platoon were facing Chinese troops aiding the North Korean forces. He drew fire to himself and yelled phrased in Mandarin, confusing the enemy troops, which led to his unit’s victory despite being outnumbered. For his heroism, he received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and two purple hearts, and he passed away on March 3, 2014.
Photo of a U.S. Marine carrying a skateboard during military exercise “Urban Warrior ‘99”, in March 1999. LCPL Chad Codwell, from Baltimore, Maryland, with Charlie Company 1st Battalion 5th Marines, carries an experimental urban combat skateboard which is being used for manuevering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire. This mission is in direct support of Urban Warrior '99.
Location: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA (CA) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA) Camera Operator: LCPL CHRISTOPHER L. VALLEE Date Shot: 16 Mar 1999
We were kids on September 11th, 2001. We took the attack on our country as a personal affront, we spent our childhood filled with the burning desire to fight back and as soon as the opportunity arose we leapt at the opportunity to fight back. Some paid with blood, some with their lives, but we never forgave and will never forget. It was and is all for you.
Marines with Company B, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, participate in an assault on the Military Operations on Urban Terrain town located at Range 210 in the Combat Center training area March 24, 2016, during a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation Exercise. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Levi Schultz/Released)