Secret Life Under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Retired Navy Capt. Joan E. Darrah served 29½ years as a naval intelligence officer and was chief of staff and deputy commander at the Office of Naval Intelligence. She has received several awards: three Legion of Merits, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Navy Commendation Medals and the Navy Achievement Medal.  She is also gay. 

She recounts what it was like to serve her country under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, that may be coming to an end, for CNN. 

For most of my career in the Navy, I lived two lives and went to work each day wondering if that would be my last. Whenever the admiral would call me to his office, 99.9 percent of me was certain that it was to discuss an operational issue. But there was always that fear in the back of my mind that somehow I had been “outed,” and he was calling me to his office to tell me that I was fired. So many simple things that straight people take for granted could have ended my career, even a comment such as “My partner and I went to the movies last night.”

Having never served in the military, I’m not qualified to say how ending the policy would affect things.  However, it seems to me that if somebody has the courage to enlist in the Armed Forces that person should be allowed to serve openly and honestly.  Especially because we do not have compulsory military service in America.

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