As the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) controversy rages on, I have been giving it some thought. True, I have never had policy-making experience in the military, but I have had military experience in a variety of settings: submarines, surface ships, Chaplain Corps, active duty, and reserves.
While the public discourse centers around "acceptance" and "morale issues," I hope that military leadership is considering the even more critical issues of impact. I will share my thoughts on these issues in a brief series.
Military service is all about readiness. Whether on active duty or in the reserves, military personnel spend significant time ensuring that they are personally prepared for deployment in accordance with standing regulations. Among other things, this means being medically qualified and fit for duty. During in port periods, submariners are scheduled for dental screening exams. Any problems are addressed. A requirement for deployment is having a clear dental record. Sound trivial? Imagine trying to do your vital job onboard a submarine that will be operating submerged for a 30-90 day period with an infected tooth!
One of the issues with homosexual behavior is that it exposes participants to more infectious disease. HIV/AIDS is the headline disease, but there are many others: hepatitis, cancers, and sundry other STDs. Some of these infectious diseases do not actually present themselves for several weeks to months after contraction, even though they can be transmitted. What does this mean? It means that a person may test negative for one or more infectious disease yet still be capable of infecting others.
Whether in combat or in the close quarters of normal military life, injuries and accidents happen. During casualty situations, there is often no opportunity to protect oneself against the transmission of blood and/or other body fluid contact. You don't stop to put on surgery room gloves and gowns in the middle of combat or fighting a shipboard fire. You just do what is necessary to save your buddy, yourself, and the equipment.
Does the increased presence of active homosexuals in the military increase, decrease, or not impact the hazards? Is readiness, as explained above, impacted? These are issues that have nothing to do with declarations of morality; they have everything to do with the ability of the United States military forces to carry out their mission to protect and defend this nation. I hope that our leadership is taking this into serious consideration.