Other Voices: Military veteran – does America want my help? | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Military veteran – does America want my help?

I am a military veteran that is seeking the help from my fellow Americans.

I served for seven and a half years, completed two deployments to the Middle East and returned honorably. Since my return to America, I have been struggling to find my place in this country.

I had entered the U.S. Air Force with the intention to seek both adventure and education. Those qualities of life was well received while stationed in Germany for several years.

However, I did not realize when I entered the military, that through the years of service I would be convinced that I was exactly what the Air Force was looking for in its members.

I was told time and time again just how great of an airman I was, and that I should consider re-enlisting to stay in the military and serve my country, because it was my country that needed men like me. I bought into that propaganda and now I am struggling to find out why I am no longer the person that my senior leaders had told me I had been the entire time during my service.

I was convinced that the U.S. Air Force was the career for me … but it ended when it was officially declared that I was gay.

When I came out of the closet, it wasn’t because I wanted out of the military. Believe me, I knew very well the consequences of being found out as gay, but it was more important to be honest with my fellow crew members than to live in direct conflict to the U.S. Air Force core value of integrity. My discharge was issued because the U.S. Department of Defense law prohibits gay members from being openly gay, and even though my commander explained to me that he did not want to discharge me from the U.S. Air Force, and even though my senior leaders all wrote recommendation letters to keep me in the Air Force, and even though all my peers and subordinates had no issue with me being gay … I was discharged because of a U.S. law.

So, it has been one year since my discharge. In that time I have been recruited by several Department of Defense contractors in search of my electronics skills to support the military missions. I have accepted these employment offers and have found myself in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Washington, D.C., supporting the military in a capacity that I was told one year ago that I was no longer eligible to do.

I struggle every day in accepting my place in this country. I was told I was one of the best, then told I was ineligible to be with the best, but then again recruited to be part of the mission again after being openly and lawfully discriminated against. I need help! My intellect can not handle this complex and conflicting message from my leaders. Can someone simply tell me once and for all … Does America want me? Please help!

(Anthony Loverde lives in Penn Valley.)

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