“VA recognizes that Veterans are composed of diverse populations with unique needs and is committed to serving all with dignity and respect. June marks LGBT Pride month and provides an opportunity to shine a light on how VA supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Here we focus on Veterans who identify as transgender.” VA RECOGNIZES PRIDE
In 1969 I was investigated by ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) for alleged ‘homosexual’ behavior. I faced a dishonorable discharge if found guilty. My legal counsel provided by the Navy advised that I deny the charge, “Don’t admit to anything.”
A few months earlier I had been admitted as a surgery patient to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, my duty station. The night prior to surgery I was administered a drug which I was told would help me to relax and sleep. (I later learned that it was sodium pentothal.) Waking up the next morning groggy, I remembered the dream I had the previous night. Several fellow hospital corpsmen accompanied by the head of hospital security interrogated me about my sexual activity. As I learned later that was not a dream. I was drugged and questioned thus leading to the investigation.
The charges, however, were dropped. I was a naïve, 22 year old, scared to death of being discovered and just happy to let the entire fiasco rest in peace. Today my response would be different, but that was 1969, I was a GI (government issue) with no rights and I resorted to my most accessible escape – alcohol.
I thank God that members of the LGBTQ+ community today do not face the same intolerance that I feared as a young man. The crusaders, the marchers, those who suffered injury and death, the men and women who were abused for living their inner truth – to all of my brothers and sisters in PRIDE – a huge hug and thank-you for making it possible on this day for a gay veteran to read about the VETERAN”S ADMINISTRATION welcoming us as part of their family. It’s not perfect, but BABY WE’VE COME A LONG WAY.