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Gay WW II veteran finally sees discharge changed from ‘undesirable’ to ‘honorable’

Saturday, September 17, 2011

After almost 70 years since being labeled by the U.S. military as “undesirable” because he is gay, Melvin Dwork, a World War II Navy veteran, has finally received his “honorable” discharge, reported the Associated Press.

Melvin Dwork


The Navy notified the 89-year-old former corpsman last month that he will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial.

Dwork spent decades fighting to remove the blot on his record.

“I resented that word ‘undesirable,’” said Dwork, who was expelled in 1944, at the height of the war, and is now a successful interior designer in New York. “That word really stuck in my craw. To me it was a terrible insult. It had to be righted. It’s really worse than ‘dishonorable.’ I think it was the worst word they could have used.”

For Dwork, victory came with a heartbreaking truth: Last year, when the Navy finally released his records, he learned that his name had been given up by his own boyfriend at the time.

Associated Press, via Navy Times

An estimated 100,000 troops were discharged between World War II and 1993 for being gay, losing their military benefits as a result.

Since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” took effect in 1993, another 14,000 service members were discharged under the policy, but most were given honorable discharges that allowed them to draw benefits.

The action by the U.S. Navy is believed to be the first time the Pentagon has taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was certified.

The ban on openly gay service members in the U.S. military officially ends on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

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23 more reader comments:

  1. About time :)

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:12pm
  2. the Navy’s actions 70 years ago were “undesirable” Shame on they for their ignorance and STUPIDITY. Im happy that it was corrected…but 70 years was a bit too long of a wait!

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:12pm
  3. Not before blooming time this vet got his honorable discharge way over due in coming

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:17pm
  4. Thank the Goddess he was able to live to see the injustice undone.

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:17pm
  5. About damn time!

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:18pm
  6. Congrats to Melvin Dwork!

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:25pm
  7. Very touching! Tuesday is indeed a big day for The United States of America! <3 maria <3

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:26pm
  8. I hope his benefits will be backdated!

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:29pm
  9. Hes now elegable for benefits. I hope they will be backdated.

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:31pm
  10. THATS GREAT…Both thumbs way up for that

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:33pm
  11. About DAMN time too

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 3:37pm
  12. One step closer to the top of our climb!

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 4:04pm
  13. At least he didn’t let that prevent him from becomming one of the foremost designers of the 20th century.

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 4:22pm
  14. thats amazing! I’m guessing the DADT repeal took effect today.

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 4:48pm
  15. I hope and pray they do it for all living vets of all wars.

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 4:59pm
  16. bout fucking time

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 5:08pm
  17. Happy to hear it

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 7:42pm
  18. YES!!!!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 8:47pm
  19. Thank you Melvin for your service to a country that took this long to realize that your sexual orientation does not affect the quality of your patriotism.

    Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 6:13am
  20. thank you Melvinn for your service and many others and thank you for continuing the fight for gay vets like myself some day i would like my discharged overturned too.

    Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 9:24am
  21. Well it’s about time. Congratulations Melvin, and thank you for serving our country!

    According to the story, it sounds like the US military has about 115,000 more people to send letters to.

    Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 1:00pm
  22. 2 thumbs up on that one!

    Posted on Monday, September 19, 2011 at 8:08am
  23. Makes me actually proud for sticking it out. Now I’ll put the uniform on tomorrow with a different sense of pride…rainbow pride. Thanks to all the queer men and women who have worn this uniform before me, with me, and who will wear it after me. Because tomorrow, I can wear it unashamedly.

    Posted on Monday, September 19, 2011 at 9:53pm