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August 4, 2009


Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is a decorated pilot who has flown combat missions over Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia. Now serving as the assistant director of operations for an Air Force squadron in Idaho, he has an exemplary 18 year record of serving his country with unquestioned honor and a level of bravery that most of us could never know.

Now, after 18 years and nine Air Medals, including one for heroism under fire during an enemy ambush near Baghdad in 2003, Fehrenbach faces discharge because last year a civilian reported to military authorities that Fehrenbach is gay.

According to an in-depth piece published yesterday by Washington Post writer Steve Vogel, the Air Force launched its own all-out investigation based on nothing more than the hearsay quality and probably revenge instigated civilian report. The result was that last September the Air Force charged Fehrenbach with "damaging its good order and discipline." How despicably ironic is that? After 18 years of exemplary service they tell him that he damaged their "good order"! That's about as cruel and callous a statement as they could have come up with.

But wait - it gets even cruder...

In April, a review board ruled against Fehrenbach, and unless Air Force Secretary Michael Donley rejects the recommendation, he will be dismissed. If he is unable to retire with 20 years of service, Fehrenbach will lose nearly $50,000 a year in retirement pay as well as medical benefits.

If he is discharged and does lose all of the benefits he EARNED over the last 18 years, it's highly unlikely that, in today's marketplace, he would ever be able to recoup any of that - provided that he's even able to find work right now! And, given the damaging label the military has pinned on him, most employers who offer more than minimum wage positions would be very reluctant to hire someone who "damaged the good order and discipline" of the military.

This whole DADT thing is getting more despicable and uglier with every passing day. It's also fermenting deep seeded resentments and almost insurmountable distrust of the military and the political leaders who allow this to happen when a simple stop-loss order from the President or fast-tracked legislation by congress would put a humane end to this cruel and unsustainable policy.

As an Air Force veteran myself, I couldn't be more ashamed of and embarrassed by our military and political leaders than I am right now. This is a great and extraordinarily vibrant country but these power brokers are making it seem little better than our most ardent adversaries.

STOP THIS STUPID POLICY NOW before anymore dedicated and patriotic service members are slandered and discharged by the very same government they risked their lives to defend!!


Rebecca said...

So angry at this.....
Will be twittering it because I can hardly speak at the injustice right now.

Steve Krotz said...

Yeah - it's pretty infuriating. I still have trouble understanding why Obama doesn't stop this with the authority he already has!

I can understand and relate to having to maneuver in the world of politics but this whole thing goes well beyond that. It's people's lives and livelihoods we're talking about here! Especially those men and women who literally put their lives on the line to protect this country.

I can certainly empathize with all of the black service men and women who returned home after World War II only to find themselves embroiled in a violent, decades long fight for the very rights they fought to defend.

The only thing that would make this a little more palatable is if all of the discharged gay service men and women would be reinstated with back pay and renewed benefits.

Unfortunately, I don't hold out much hope of that happening.