BOSTON — U.S. Rep Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts running for president, has said he wants to restore benefits to veterans discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The Hill reported that Moulton announced a plan to return the benefits on Thursday. The congressman told the website that more than 100,000 LGBTQ service members missed out on veterans benefits such as the GI Bill because they were less-than-honorably discharged under the policy.
Started during the Clinton presidency, the policy was supposed allow LGBTQ people to serve in the military as long as they didn’t declare their orientation and the military was not supposed to ask about orientation. It was supposed to be a “lighter” version a ban on LGBTQ people in the military. It was repealed in 2010 when Obama changed policy for LGBTQ people to serve openly.
From The Hill:
The plan from Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, would shift the burden of appealing discharges away from veterans and instead make it the responsibility of the military’s correction and discharge review boards.
“The military record correction and discharge review boards will examine the discharge status of everyone to determine who was separated for sexual orientation or ‘homosexual activity.’ Unless the military can produce records to justify the discharge on other grounds, each veteran’s status will be automatically upgraded to honorable–restoring the benefits that they earned and so rightly deserve,” Moulton said in a statement.
The proposal would also ensure that the review boards work with veterans with newly upgraded discharge status to help them understand their benefits and update the records of deceased service members to reflect the honorable discharge.
Moulton noted statistics that say veterans who received an other-than-honorable discharge face difficulties finding employment and disproportionately fall into homelessness.
Moulton, who announced he was running for the Democratic nomination in April, is an Iraq War veteran, according to The Hill.