An Air Force spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the Secretary of the Air Force approved a discharge under the military‘s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, the first such discharge since October when the Pentagon directed that ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharges would require the approval of the service branch secretary.
Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez wrote today to Metro Weekly, “The only separation approved following the Oct. 21, 2010 policy change is an Air Force separation, approved Apr. 29, 2011.”
Air Force Major Joel Harper, an Air Force spokesman, clarified the specifics of the discharge to Metro Weekly, writing, “On April 29th, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force approved the discharge of an Airman under the provisions of 10 USC 654, after coordination with the DoD General Counsel [Jeh Johnson] and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness [Clifford Stanley].”
Harper continued, “Each of these officials evaluated the case carefully, and concluded that separation was appropriate. The Airman in the case asked to be separated expeditiously.”
Harper did not indicate whether a voluntary statement by the service member was the basis for the discharge, but did reiterate in his email to Metro Weekly that “until repeal occurs, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ remains the law.”
“This discharge underscores the need for the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense to certify ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and put this ugly chapter in American history behind us,” Aubrey Sarvis, and Army veteran and Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a statement.
“It also highlights the undeniable and unfortunate fact that service members remain under investigation and at risk of discharge,” Sarvis said.
On April 7, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said preparation for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was entering its final phase.