The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that veterans who were discharged under the former “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) U.S. military policy are now eligible for all benefits.
The news came during a virtual White House event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the discriminatory policy.
“More than 100,000 American service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity — including more than 14,000 under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” President Joe Biden said in a press statement.
DADT was enacted as an official federal policy in 1994 under the Clinton administration and remained in effect until it was repealed by President Barack Obama in 2011. The act prohibited service members from disclosing their gender identity, sexual orientation, or HIV status while in the armed forces.
“No veteran should bear a less than honorable discharge based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated. Austin also urged service members who believe they were wrongfully discharged to contact their military departments.
The 10th anniversary of the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is a reminder of our commitment to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion across the force. It makes us more representative of the nation we defend. It makes us wiser. It makes us stronger. https://t.co/wD6QyR04eT
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) September 20, 2021
The Biden administration has taken multiple steps to reform LGBTQ inclusion for service members. In January 2021, he signed an executive order to remove a Trump-era ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.
LGBTQ+ Americans stepped up to serve our country, even when discriminatory policies prevented them from serving openly.
— Rep. Lauren Underwood (@RepUnderwood) September 20, 2021
INSIGHT recently highlighted military groundbreakers who took great strides to diversify the U.S. military.