Blade on military’s recoupment penalties it charges gay DADT victims

Posted on 11 Feb 2011 at 6:43am

This is the issue Joe and I wrote about a week or so ago, and about which we posted this open letter to Defense Secretary Gates, that now has over 5,000 signatures – please add yours.

Chris Johnson in the Washington Blade:

For Sara Isaacson, separation from the University of North Carolina’s Army ROTC program because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” comes with a price tag of $ 79,265.

Isaacson told the Washington Blade she understands the U.S. military wants to protect its investment in training her, but she hopes to repay her debt by serving in the armed forces as opposed to paying the expenses out of pocket.

“I have always said the goal is still to serve my country and I want to be able to fulfill my commitment by serving in uniform,” she said. “The military right now is not allowing me to do that, so I don’t think it’s fair that they’re asking for the tuition back.”

Isaacson, 22 and a lesbian, said she hasn’t yet graduated from college and doesn’t know how she could pay the money that the U.S. military is seeking.

“I’m a few classes away from graduating and I don’t have $ 80,000 to repay the military,” she said.

Nicholson said he’s been “hounding” White House officials on the recoupment issue even prior to signing of repeal legislation.

Part of the reason for keeping the practice in place, Nicholson said, was that the Obama administration didn’t want to take action before the Pentagon working group published its report on implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

“Obviously, we realized when that report came out that it was not something they addressed, so we obviously started hounding them again on this,” Nicholson said.

Noting that current law gives the Pentagon discretion over whether or not to collect recoupment fees, Nicholson said ending the practice would be a “simple fix” because it would only require an order from President Obama.




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