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Out
former marine goes to Congress to fight "don't ask,
don't tell"

Out
former marine goes to Congress to fight "don't ask,
don't tell"

Eric_alva_ap

Eric Alva, the first American wounded in the Iraq War, has since come out and is working now to lift the ban on openly gay service members in the U.S. military.

The first American soldier wounded in the Iraq War has since come out and is working now to lift the ban on openly gay service members in the U.S. military. Retired marine staff sergeant Eric Alva on Wednesday accompanied Democratic representative Martin Meehan of Massachusetts and a bipartisan group of representatives to Capitol Hill to reintroduce the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that would repeal the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay service members.

Alva, who grew up in a military family, lost a leg on the first day of combat in Iraq in 2003 after stepping on a land mine. He told ABC News that losing his leg forced him to come out of the closet. "It made me realize everything that I had to actually speak up for," Alva said to ABC, "basically, the rights and privileges of what I as an individual have earned in this country."

In an interview with TheWashington Post, Alva said that his becoming vocal about striking down "don't ask, don't tell" is also due to the fact that there are not enough service members to keep up a successful war effort.

"We're losing probably thousands of men and women that are skilled at certain types of jobs, from air traffic controllers to linguists, because of this broken policy," he told the Post.

The Pentagon has argued that the ban was enacted for the sake of maintaining unit cohesion.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for gay service personnel, released data Wednesday showing that in 2005 the armed forces dismissed more than 742 service members, including medics, intelligence officers, infantrymen, and seven nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare specialists. Since the law's implementation in 1993, more than 11,000 military personnel have been dismissed.

A Zogby poll released in December showed that 23% of U.S. troops say they know someone in their unit who is gay or lesbian. (The Advocate)

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