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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 27, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 35
Pentagon mails new DADT survey
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Pentagon mails new DADT survey

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Late last week, Pentagon officials mailed out 150,000 new 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) surveys, this time seeking input from military spouses about the potential repeal of the U.S. military's discriminatory policy that prohibits Gays and Lesbians from serving openly.

The Defense Department said military spouses started receiving copies of the 44-question survey on August 20. The spouse surveys were mailed to 80,000 reserve-component and 70,000 active duty spouses. Spouses have until September 27 to complete it, the Pentagon said.

'Your voice is important, and we need you to participate,' Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates states in a letter accompanying the survey. 'The survey is confidential and will enable you to be straightforward and candid in your responses.'

The new survey comes on the heels of a widely criticized survey the Pentagon sent to about 400,000 troops last month. According to Pentagon officials, about 28% responded.

The Pentagon said the surveys give the review panel a baseline of information that best represents the military's 2.2 million servicemembers and their families. The panel is studying the possible implications on the military should Congress decide to repeal DADT.

The spouse survey is somewhat different from the one taken by the servicemembers. The survey is not lengthy (taking spouses about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, the Pentagon estimates) or comprehensive, and it zeroes in on family readiness.

"We understand the inextricable link between the families, servicemembers, and readiness, and this survey is a way to try to better understand that," Army General Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Europe commander, said.

Ham and Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, were appointed by Secretary Gates to head the special DADT review board.

"What we're trying to gauge is an assessment that if this law is repealed, and this DADT policy is changed, what will that mean to our families?" Ham said. "By better understanding the impacts of possible repeal, we'll be able to craft policies, procedures, education, and training to address those issues."

According to news reports and Pentagon officials, the group has been meeting with troops and family members since February - months before any surveys were sent out.

The survey asks whether they think the respondent's spouse has ever worked with a servicemember they believe to be Gay, and how well they knew the individual.

It also asks whether spouses would like the military to provide them with information if DADT is repealed.

Other questions on the survey:

o How important a factor would a repeal of DADT be to you in making decisions about your spouse's future in the military?

o Would a repeal of DADT affect your willingness to recommend military service to a family member or close friend?

o Assume DADT is repealed and you live in on-base housing. If a Gay or Lesbian servicemember lived in your neighborhood with their partner, would you stay on-base or would you try to move out?

o Would the attendance of a Gay or Lesbian servicemember with his or her partner affect how often you attend these types of military social events?

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