By Eric Alva
Retired Marine Staff Sergeant
Veterans Lobby Day Volunteer
I’ve spent three years telling my story to audiences across the country and working with the Human Rights Campaign to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and I’ve never seen so much momentum to end this discriminatory policy.
In two weeks, we’re going to capture that momentum and bring it to Capitol Hill.
On May 11, I’ll be joining hundreds of other current and former members of the military at the Veterans Lobby Day to deliver one clear message to Congress – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” must end this year.
HRC and Servicemembers United are working to make this event as high-profile and effective as possible, and the head count matters. A lot. We need all hands on deck.
If you have friends or family who are veterans, please spread the word about our Veterans Lobby Day – and encourage them to join us. Send them here:
I signed up for the Marines when I was just 19 years old. I served for 13 years, from Somalia to California to Japan, and then shipped out to Iraq. Three hours into the start of the ground war, I stepped on a landmine and almost lost my life.
I was the first American soldier wounded in Iraq; I received a Purple Heart, and President Bush visited me in the hospital. As I slowly recovered, the shame of this policy that forced me and thousands of other soldiers to hide began to enrage me.
I traveled to Washington and came out with my story, which was all over the national news. The response blew me away. Almost every single Marine I’d served with – gay and straight – called me with support. And I’ve been fighting this fight ever since.
Watching this campaign build over the past three years, I know how important this Lobby Day is in our battle for repeal. It’s our last chance to speak out before Congress takes action on the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill that should contain the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language.
So it’s crunch time. And whether you’re a veteran, a friend or relative of a service member, or simply someone who believes in equality, I hope you’ll support this Lobby Day and help us end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”