June 24, 2016
Since opening the service to gays and lesbians in 2011, the Navy has granted 123 discharge upgrades out of 413 requests, according to Defense Department data.
Navy Department leaders are encouraging thousands discharged under the repealed "Don't ask, don't tell" rules to appeal adverse separations. An estimated 5,600 LGBT sailors and Marines were kicked out while this policy was in effect from 1993 to 2011. WESTERN PACIFIC (June 20, 2016) - Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Luis Bermudez, from Orlando, Florida, speaks during a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride month celebration in USS John C. Stennis' (CVN 74) hangar bay. Bermudez displayed a shirt with the names of the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, June 12. Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago / Released) (Photo: MC3 Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago/Navy)Navy Department officials are urging the thousands of sailors and Marines forced out of the military because of their sexuality in previous decades to come forward and appeal their discharge — in a step to restore benefits and right a historical wrong.
The Board for Correction of Naval Records can overturn a wide range of records, from counseling letters to detachments for cause, but recently they have been putting the word out to veterans who were separated because of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy — and its previous across-the-board ban — that they can have their discharges upgraded and their reenlistment codes or reason codes changed to reflect a post-DADT world.
"If you were discharged under 'Don’t ask, don’t tell,' come in," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a June 8 speech at a Pentagon event for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. "The Board of Corrections for Naval Records will take a look at changing that discharge characterization … If you have colleagues that were discharged under that, ask them to come in — if it’s under the regulations, get that discharge characterization changed."
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