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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 23
Col. Grethe Cammermeyer named to Pentagon panel
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Col. Grethe Cammermeyer named to Pentagon panel

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On June 2, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley announced the appointment of retired Reserve Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS).

Cammermeyer, an out Lesbian, served 31 years in the military prior to retirement as Washington state chief nurse. Cammermeyer burst onto the national spotlight in 1989 when she challenged her discharge under the military's anti-Gay regulation and exclusion. In 1995, a made-for-television movie adapted from the autobiography Serving in Silence was aired. Cammermeyer continues to be an active advocate for LGBT equality and a recognizable name in the Gay rights movement.

DACOWITS, established in 1951 during the Korean War, is an independent advisory committee that provides the department with advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of highly qualified professional women in the armed forces. DACOWITS members include prominent civilian women and men representing a distribution of demography, academia, industry, public service, and other professions. Selection is on the basis of experience in the military, or with woman-related workforce issues.

According to the Defense Department, DACOWITS members are selected for a three-year term and are not compensated. Duties include visiting military installations each year, conducting a review and evaluation of current research on military women, and developing an annual report with recommendations on the issues to service leadership and the secretary of defense.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), the military's discriminatory policy on open Gay military service, applauded Cammermeyer's appointment.

"Colonel Cammermeyer's appointment represents a step forward as we continue to push for Lesbians and Gays to serve openly in our armed forces," said Zoe Dunning, co-chair of the board of directors for SLDN. "At the time of her separation for the military, Cammermeyer served as chief nurse of the Washington state National Guard. Despite an exemplary military and civilian record, her sexual orientation was discovered during an interview for top-secret clearance. DADT strips the military of our best for simply being who they are - it's not only discrimination, but it's weakening our national security."

"The president and Under-Secretary of Defense Clifford Stanley chose wisely in appointing Colonel Cammermeyer," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for SLDN. "She is an outstanding American and eminently qualified for this panel. Our country will benefit greatly from this appointment. For years, we have taken enormous pride in Cammermeyer being an active member of our Military Advisory Council; we are especially pleased to see that the White House and the Defense Department will also be benefiting from the vast expertise and rich experiences that Colonel Cammermeyer brings to this body."

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