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Officer X – U.S.

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Last Build Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2018 20:11:35 +0000


Carpe September 20thmilitaryofficerx

Tue, 20 Sep 2011 10:15:56 +0000

The clock is ticking. If you are reading this, it means the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is no more. As of right now, I no longer have to hide in a web of lies about the details of my personal life. Throughout my time in service under DADT, a week hasn’t gone by where I haven’t been reminded of the policy. It didn’t take long to numb myself to hearing “that’s so gay” or “that guy over there is such a fag”. I think the existence of the ban on gays in the military has allowed a false perception to exist that nobody in the military is actually gay. This week will be an eye-opening experience for many people who have never encountered gay people in their daily lives. The realization that their battle buddy has been living a secret life on the side, and still keeping up in the fight is scary to some troops, and I think many people will be surprised to learn we’ve been here all along. Now that it’s over, I don’t suspect things will change much. The mission will go on, but I will no longer be forced to hide who I am. Those of us affected by the policy will no longer have to be bogged down by the disquiet of living a double life. (READ: How the End of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Will Change the U.S. Military) I’m sure many of my coworkers assume I’m a bit of a shut-in who never goes out. Coming up with endless cover stories about what goes on during my free time is an art-form not easily mastered. These tales usually revolve around some event important enough to turn down a friend’s invitation to hang out ahead of time, but trite enough where they won’t want to join. No one in my squadron has met my boyfriend, and the stories I tell about us during a long ocean-crossing are filled with cover-ups about “my buddy”. His squadron — yes, he too is

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All Systems Go!militaryofficerxStarting Engines Checklist

Mon, 19 Sep 2011 14:59:18 +0000

Despite what Mark Thompson thinks, I am no flying monkey. Like most things in my life I am associating tomorrow’s impending lift of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to something pilot-related.  Right now I’m running the starting-engines checklist and making sure my systems are all good before liftoff. The day after my debut flight in the C-17, President Obama signed into law the repeal of the ban on open service for gays in the military. In a very real way that time symbolized a turning point for both my professional and personal life. On the military side it was the beginning of my career flying $200 million cargo jets, and simultaneously it set into motion a series of events which ultimately lead to me writing for TIME’s Battleland under the pseudonym “Officer X”. Tomorrow is the start of a new chapter in the lives of gay Americans everywhere. The way I understand it, as the calendar day rolls over each new time zone to 20 Sep, the dark shroud of DADT will lift like a curtain. I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say our boys serving away from their families in Asia and the Middle East deserve this more than anyone. – Officer X is a young, gay military officer who is currently serving on active duty despite the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on open service. He is a pilot and regularly flies throughout the world both in and out of combat. His views are his alone and do not reflect the opinions of the U.S. military, its branches, or any organization. Follow him on Twitter @TIMEOfficerX or email him

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Post-“Don’t Ask” Stress, v. 2.0militaryofficerx

Fri, 16 Sep 2011 10:37:56 +0000

Recently I caught wind of an independent study being conducted by the University of Maryland Baltimore County about the effects of DADT on the mental health of those who have been directly affected by the policy. After contacting the man responsible for the project directly, I was able to learn a thing or two about this ground-breaking research which barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done. Initially, the study is being conducted in the form of a survey, and those working on it hope to achieve an impact comparable to early Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) research. The bulk of the anonymous survey’s 200 participants came from the pool of LGBT servicemembers known as OutServe, and seeks to find a correlation between demographics: actively serving vs veteran, different services, and even hetero- vs homosexual. In my interview with Jeremy Johnson, the headman behind the research, he pointed out how he feels organizations like the VA are not adequately equipped for the post-DADT generation of troops. He detailed how no guidance exists for them to care for transgender veterans, which leads to an interesting discussion as to whether or not, or to what extent the government should pay for their extensive treatments. Johnson’s survey also seeks to focus on the services provided to those currently serving, and is concerned they are not being used. The survey asks questions to learn to what degree LGBT servicemebers are afraid to use the chaplain corps, get tested for STDs, or even confide in their chain of command. From my personal experiences under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy the questions asked in the survey seemed reasonable. The main downside to the survey is its small scale. Due to the fact it is a university survey it is limited to course requirements and limited resources. In order to accomplish its ambitious goals the study needs to extend beyond the constraints and limitations of So what is the next step? Johnson is hoping to conduct one-on-one interviews. If you have been personally affected

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The Protected Principles of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”militaryofficerxOfficer X

Thu, 08 Sep 2011 11:35:50 +0000

On my desk I have a proposed bill ensuring no troop is “pressured to approve of another person’s sexual conduct if that sexual conduct is contrary to the personal principles of the member” with respect to the repeal of  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” What I should do here is point out what is obviously upsetting about this bill, then extrapolate it to an illogical level. I could say a person who has built his or her principles on a holy book which gives a man the right to own slaves should not feel pressured to think slavery is wrong. The obvious argument is not what has been keeping me up at night in the wake of the impending repeal of DADT. What is making me nervous are the underlying motives of the people who are still trying to derail the repeal train. Even though Congress, the White House, the court system, the Pentagon and the majority of the American people want this to happen, there is a considerable sum of people trying up until the last minute to stop the inevitable. I honestly can’t understand why, and wish someone could explain it to me rationally. The crazy thing is this policy doesn’t even affect those who seem to be trying the hardest to keep it alive. But there is a significant population who the policy does affect: the men and women in uniform. On 20 Sept, the day of DADT’s final repeal, the lives of thousands of servicemembers will be changed forever, including my own. Yet believe it or not, one thing I will never ask of any of my comrades is for them to approve of my sexual acts, because that is frankly none of their business. The most unfortunate part of being open about my sexual orientation within the military will be the associated implications about my sex life that inevitably will come to people’s minds. This is largely because of how the term is often viewed: sexual orientation in the sense of the sex that goes on

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Post-“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: SLDN Stays Relevant in the FightmilitaryofficerxServicemember's Legal Defense Network

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 16:49:51 +0000

One of my favorite movies of all time, Kill Bill (vol 2) has a scene where one of the main characters is facing the demise of her nemesis. One of her comrades approaches her with the following question: “They say the number one killer of old people is retirement. People got ’em a job to do, they tend to live a little longer so they can do it. I’ve always figured warriors and their enemies share the same relationship. So, now you ain’t gonna hafta face your enemy on the battlefield no more, which “R” are you filled with: Relief or Regret?” Now that the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is only days away, I can only imagine there are some people who have worked so hard to see its end, that they must be feeling one of these two “R” words. When I think of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a different “R” word comes to mind: “Relevance” For well over a decade, SLDN has been offering legal counseling and representation for servicemembers facing discharge under DADT, while advocating politically for the equal rights of LGBT patriots. Even though DADT is in its final days, those who work for SLDN still have their work cut out for them. The work they do is just as “R”elevant in the fight for equality as it was when they first started. Currently they are calling on President Obama to sign an Executive Order which will give gay and lesbian service members who face harassment and discrimination a place to go outside the chain of command.  This is important because sometimes the problem exists within the chain. They have even created a petition which you can sign in an attempt to get the President to approve the Executive Order. SLDN’s end goal is to help achieve equality across the board for LGBT troops. As it stands now, there are disparities between the benefits offered to straight, married couples and legally married LGBT couples within the military after the repeal of DADT. Let

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Meeting Tomorrow’s Recruits Todaymilitaryofficerx

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 11:12:06 +0000

This past weekend, something astonishing happened that made me see repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a new light. I was out shopping with my boyfriend, and as he went to buy a smart looking button-down shirt he asked the store clerk about their military discount. The clerk responded with delight and said he couldn’t wait until DADT repeal to finally follow his dream of joining the Air Force. This was the first person I have encountered face-to-face who was deterred from enlisting all together because of DADT. Rather than being stuck working at a dead-end job in a rough economy, young gay men and women will soon have new opportunities opened to them by going into the military. For the first time ever many of them will receive full health care coverage and have the chance to go to college. I honestly can’t wait to see the next batch of new recruits and all they have to offer. – Officer X is a young, gay military officer who is currently serving on active duty despite the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on open service. He is a pilot and regularly flies throughout the world both in and out of combat. His views are his alone and do not reflect the opinions of the U.S. military, its branches, or any organization. Follow him on Twitter @TIMEOfficerX or email him

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Return of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?militaryofficerxRainbow and American Flag

Fri, 19 Aug 2011 11:02:20 +0000

Buzz from articles like this have started to make people nervous about the possibility of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy coming back, even after it has been rescinded. I’ve heard talk like this from some members of Congress on Capitol Hill for a while, and have been both curious and concerned about the logistics of reinstating the policy. As I mentioned in my post from last Friday, I expect there to be a significant number of gay and lesbian troops who come out on or after 20 Sep, but not everyone will. If the ban on open service is reinstated, would there be any legal justification to remove someone like me from the service, who did everything as the letter of the law states and waited until it was legal to come out? The training I went through to become a pilot cost the government approximately $1 million. That would mean $1 million lost plus the cost of inflation to replace every pilot we lose (not to mention the hundreds of other career fields who would be losing personnel). But let’s assume they let me stay. Would the entire DoD be forced to just pretend the time when gays served openly never happened? It would be suspicious to say the least if on the day gays and lesbians were no longer able to serve openly, we all just showed up and said “Gotcha, I was just kidding before” and went back to playing straight. If not, would every gay soldier be forced to enroll in one of these types of re-orientation camps that tries to straighten out gays? Luckily Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network (SLDN) assures us the repealing of the repeal of DADT is very unlikely. I just get concerned when bold statements are made concerning national defense policy while putting little thought into the logistics or the consequences. – Officer X is a young, gay military officer who is currently serving on active duty despite the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: External Pressure or Internal Struggle?militaryofficerxmmf

Fri, 12 Aug 2011 10:03:25 +0000

The end of the 60-day waiting period for the full and final repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is rapidly approaching. On September 20, the first day I can legally be “out,” I have a feeling it will initially feel just like any other day. At this point, I have no idea what country I will be in, but when the alarm on my cell phone goes off to wake me up, I guarantee I will have to continue to remind myself what that day means. After talking with some of my fellow gay servicemembers, I have realized 20 Sept will not be a day of relief for every closeted troop. Instead of having the external pressure of a discriminatory policy hanging over the entire Department of Defense, the only pressure keeping gay troops in the closet will come from inside. Not every closeted person wants to come out or feels comfortable doing so. I know this because at this time two years ago I was one of those people. It’s easy to get caught up in the constant posturing of pretending to be straight. I’ll admit I used to tell gay jokes to fit in. I would hit on girls at the bar because my buddies peer-pressured me to do so, and even went home with a few on rare occasions. Why? Because I didn’t want to be different. I wanted so badly to do this job I was willing to cut my own arm off if Uncle Sam gave me a uniform with only one sleeve. Whatever it took. I know I am not alone in this. I would imagine a lot of these people who are still scared to come out are the same way. Sure in five weeks it will be legal to be openly gay, but that doesn’t mean we won’t face adversity and career impact. There will still be organizations like Christian Fighter Pilot who make official statements like this one. “From a Christian perspective, the decision to repeal laws banning military service by

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“So There I Was…”militaryofficerxEarly 1900s Body Armor Test

Thu, 04 Aug 2011 13:33:30 +0000

…Those four words are how every pilot starts a story. So there I was, tightening the velcro on my flak vest.  One of my crewmembers pointed out to me the warning label the lawyers wrote on the inside in case it failed to perform as advertised. It said something about this piece of equipment not being rated to stop ballistics or projectiles. Good to know. This same crewmember had absolutely no expression on his face. I guess that’s to be expected. Without getting into the gory details of it, a few days prior he made a drunken mistake which was likely to end his marriage. The crazy thing was, he wasn’t the only one having problems back at home. One of the other guys had been living with the mother of his son of a few years. I had the impression it was one of those stay-together-for-the-kids agreements, and it wasn’t working out too well. But who am I to judge? The night before he had given her an ultimatum, saying “I’m all in if you are”. I guess she wasn’t. It must be hard being with someone who is gone all the time. I can’t imagine having to watch after a kid on top of all that. And then it hit me. I wasn’t the only person in the crew who has to shut up and put on their game face. I could go on and on about the rest of us and our situations, but I think you get the point. Every one of us had something going on back home: bills, debt, family, continuing education, homework… but in the moment, none of it mattered. Over and over again I find myself saying I have the best job in the world. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not because of the speed. It’s not because I get to fly a multi-million dollar piece of machinery low to the ground, dodging hills and mountains in order to stay below the radar. It’s not the freedom experienced by saying goodbye to

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60 Days and Countingmilitaryofficerx

Fri, 22 Jul 2011 15:58:14 +0000

Thursday evening I had a series of emails sent directly to my phone. I was out with some of the members of my squadron who do not know I’m gay, so as usual I held my phone in a way that didn’t allow the screen to be read by others. The emails all said certification of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was expected to occur on Friday, which is today. When I get as happy as I did in the moment when I read those emails, I find the smiles are hard to hide… And then it hit me. The 60 day clock is ticking, and soon I won’t have to hide moments like this. I can smile and not have to worry or start thinking of cover stories in case someone asks me what I’m smiling about. “Oh my aunt just sent me this stupid email. It’s an inside joke.” Today I am the same around my unit as I was yesterday. I did not attach a rainbow pride morale patch to my flight suit (the little ones pilots put on their pen pockets with catchy phrases or flags of their home state). Heck, I’m still not allowed to do that. However, the ball is in motion and moving toward the day when I can, and that ball will be hard to stop. I am trying to picture how that first day after repeal will look. I am usually a very calculated person when it comes to matters like this, so I am working on my game plan. Right now I am thinking it will start out pretty normal, and as soon as someone asks me what I did over the weekend, for once it won’t be a lie or a half truth. It will probably be something to the effect of “my boyfriend and I went out and did X,Y,Z”. Lucky for me, I still have 60 days to figure out the details. – Officer X is a young, gay military officer who is currently serving

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