'Don't Ask' Is Dead, But Uncle Sam Hounds Gay Vets for Payback

Feb 1, 2011
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
Being an ex-soldier shouldn't be so expensive. (Photo: Reuters Pictures)

Gay and Lesbian service members discharged under the now dead "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban often face one last enduring humiliation after their forced separation from the military: Uncle Sam wants his money back.

Several blogs are highlighting cases of the Department of Defense forcing gay vets to repay thousands of dollars in ROTC tuition payments, signing bonuses and other benefits.

Ostensibly, payback is required because these gay service members didn't fulfill the terms of their military contracts. In extenuating reality, they were discharged under what the U.S. Congress now acknowledges was a discriminatory policy.

In some cases, the Department of the Treasury has confiscated yearly tax refunds to "reimburse" the Pentagon.

The Pentagon's policy of siccing bill collectors on gay vets got renewed attention recently after Lt. Dan Choi—one of the most prominent proponents of repealing the gay ban—publicized the $2,500 bill he received from the Defense Department for the "unearned portion" of his military pay.

Choi published an open letter to President Obama declaring his refusal to pay the Pentagon: "My obligations to take a stand, knowing all the continued consequences of my violations, are clear. I refuse to pay your claim."

Other soldiers have been asked to pay as much as $78,000 in education reimbursement.

AmericaBlog has set up a petition to pressure the Pentagon to end its policy of sending bill collectors after gay and lesbian vets discharged under DADT. So far, the petition has collected more than 4,400 signatures, with the aim of 5,000. 

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