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Servicemembers Legal Defense Network continues its new media campaign to urge presidential and Congressional action on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal this year. Captain Joan Darrah, who retired from the United States Navy because of the discriminatory policy, writes the letter to President Obama for Tuesday.
Darrah recalls her experience being in the Pentagon on the morning of the September 11th attacks, and the uncomfortable truths it revealed about the lack of protections for her partner, Lynne.
"In the days and weeks that followed, I went to at least seven funerals and memorial services for shipmates who had been killed in the Pentagon attack," writes Darrah. "As the numbness began to wear off, it hit me how incredibly alone Lynne would have been had I been killed.
"The military is known for how it pulls together and helps people; we talk of the 'military family' which is a way of saying we always look after each other, especially in times of need. But none of that support would have been available for Lynne, because under 'don't ask, don't tell,' she couldn't exist.
"In fact, had I been killed, Lynne would have been one of the last people to know, because nowhere in my paperwork or emergency contact information had I dared to list Lynne's name. This realization caused us both to stop and reassess exactly what was most important in our lives. During that process we realized that 'don't ask, don't tell was causing us to make a much bigger sacrifice than either of us had ever admitted."
Darrah retired in 2002 after 29 years in the Navy.
Her letter is part of the ongoing SLDN campaign across social media called, "Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama." The campaign urges President Obama and Congress members to find the votes to include "don't ask, don't tell" repeal in the Defense Authorization bill.