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Old September 16th, 2011, 07:03 PM   #1
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This was interesting, and hopefully a portent of things to come:



Quote:
http://photoblog.msn...wii-vets-record

http://www.washingto...CHYK_story.html



SAN DIEGO — Nearly 70 years after expelling Melvin Dwork for being gay, the Navy is changing his discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable” — marking what 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.”



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.

The decision to amend his discharge papers was made by the Board for Corrections of Naval Records in Washington.



In its Aug. 17 proceedings, obtained by The Associated Press, the board noted that the Navy has undergone a “radical departure” from the outright ban on gays that was in place in 1944. The board pointed out Dwork’s “exemplary period of active duty” and said that changing the terms of his discharge was done “in the interest of justice.”



Navy officials declined to discuss Dwork’s case, citing privacy reasons.



I think that with the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ there is a growing realization within the military that not only gays be allowed to serve openly now but this was probably the wrong policy all along,” said Aaron Belkin, an expert on gays in the U.S. military at the University of California, Los Angeles.



He added: “This illustrates, at least in the case of one person, that the military is trying to set things right.”



About 100,000 troops were discharged between World War II and 1993 for being gay and lost their benefits as a result, Belkin said. Under the more relaxed “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which allowed gays to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation to themselves, about 14,000 troops were forced out, but most were given honorable discharges that allowed them to draw benefits. The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” officially takes effect Tuesday.



Since Congress voted last year to repeal the Clinton-era law, dozens of gay veterans who were given undesirable, dishonorable or less-than-honorable discharges before 1993 have stepped forward, seeking to have the stain removed from their records, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.



The SLDN, which provides free legal representation to gays in the military, said Dwork is the first World War II veteran they know of to succeed in getting his records changed.

Many of the other cases involve veterans from the Gulf War era of the early 1990s. Next to Dwork, the oldest veteran is from the Vietnam era, the SLDN said.



pg2
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Old September 16th, 2011, 07:10 PM   #2
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pg2



Navy officials said that legally, they could have amended the discharge records of gay veterans even during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era. But they could not say for certain whether that was ever done. And the SLDN said it could not recall any such cases.



“As the military progresses and the culture progresses, people should not be left with the inaccurate characteristic of their service with words like ‘unfitness’ or ‘undesirable’ on their paperwork,” said David McKean, SLDN legal director and Dwork’s attorney. “That paperwork has consequences for people throughout their lives.”



Dwork was not allowed to draw GI benefits to continue his studies as a young man and was denied medical care in his later years. He said he needs a hearing aid that he cannot afford.

Over the years, he filed countless requests with the Navy, traveled to Washington, lobbied lawmakers and hired a law firm to help.



The Board for Corrections of Naval Records said it would reinstate Dwork’s benefits retroactively. But exactly what that means — whether, for example, the Navy will write him a check for the benefits he missed out on over a lifetime — is unclear, his attorney said.



The son of open-minded, liberal parents, Dwork grew up in Kansas City, Mo. He said he realized at 18 that he was gay and had his first serious relationship soon afterward with a man he met while studying at the Kansas City Institute of Art. Both joined the Navy hospital corps in 1943.



“I had heard that the hospital corps was simpatico to gay people,” Dwork said. “Being in the hospital, you took care of people who were in trouble.”



While working at the Marine base on Parris Island, S.C., Dwork sent letters to his boyfriend, stationed in New Orleans, declaring in one: “I love you, love you, love you incessantly.” But after his gay friends warned him to be careful, he stopped writing love letters.



Later, Dwork was sitting in class, training to be an officer at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, when MPs showed up, whispered something in his instructor’s ear and marched him out of the room. His teacher told the class that if he were Dwork’s father, he would cut off Dwork’s genitals.



He was thrown in the brig, then transferred to a psychiatric ward in Charleston, S.C., where he said he spent a couple of weeks being peppered with “stupid” questions.



“This patient is a 22-year-old male who keeps his robe tightly wrapped around him and speaks in a slightly effeminate manner,” the doctors wrote in their report. They said Dwork took an “avid interest in female attire, household furnishings and shopping.”



Dwork said he had assumed his love letters had fallen into the wrong hands and led to his discharge. After he recently learned the truth, he contacted his former boyfriend, who had long ago married and had children. The man did not want to discuss the matter, Dwork said.



Dwork said he does not blame his former boyfriend; he said the young man was pressured into giving up names as part of a “witch hunt.”



“It was confusing to me that anything like that could happen,” Dwork said. “I always knew I was innocent, and I wasn’t ashamed of what I was or what I am. It was just a sad period. I didn’t know frankly at that point it would affect the rest of my life.”
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Old September 16th, 2011, 09:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skrekk View Post
Quote:
pg2



Navy officials said that legally, they could have amended the discharge records of gay veterans even during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era. But they could not say for certain whether that was ever done. And the SLDN said it could not recall any such cases.



“As the military progresses and the culture progresses, people should not be left with the inaccurate characteristic of their service with words like ‘unfitness’ or ‘undesirable’ on their paperwork,” said David McKean, SLDN legal director and Dwork’s attorney. “That paperwork has consequences for people throughout their lives.”



Dwork was not allowed to draw GI benefits to continue his studies as a young man and was denied medical care in his later years. He said he needs a hearing aid that he cannot afford.

Over the years, he filed countless requests with the Navy, traveled to Washington, lobbied lawmakers and hired a law firm to help.



The Board for Corrections of Naval Records said it would reinstate Dwork’s benefits retroactively. But exactly what that means — whether, for example, the Navy will write him a check for the benefits he missed out on over a lifetime — is unclear, his attorney said.



The son of open-minded, liberal parents, Dwork grew up in Kansas City, Mo. He said he realized at 18 that he was gay and had his first serious relationship soon afterward with a man he met while studying at the Kansas City Institute of Art. Both joined the Navy hospital corps in 1943.



“I had heard that the hospital corps was simpatico to gay people,” Dwork said. “Being in the hospital, you took care of people who were in trouble.”



While working at the Marine base on Parris Island, S.C., Dwork sent letters to his boyfriend, stationed in New Orleans, declaring in one: “I love you, love you, love you incessantly.” But after his gay friends warned him to be careful, he stopped writing love letters.



Later, Dwork was sitting in class, training to be an officer at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, when MPs showed up, whispered something in his instructor’s ear and marched him out of the room. His teacher told the class that if he were Dwork’s father, he would cut off Dwork’s genitals.



He was thrown in the brig, then transferred to a psychiatric ward in Charleston, S.C., where he said he spent a couple of weeks being peppered with “stupid” questions.



“This patient is a 22-year-old male who keeps his robe tightly wrapped around him and speaks in a slightly effeminate manner,” the doctors wrote in their report. They said Dwork took an “avid interest in female attire, household furnishings and shopping.”



Dwork said he had assumed his love letters had fallen into the wrong hands and led to his discharge. After he recently learned the truth, he contacted his former boyfriend, who had long ago married and had children. The man did not want to discuss the matter, Dwork said.



Dwork said he does not blame his former boyfriend; he said the young man was pressured into giving up names as part of a “witch hunt.”



“It was confusing to me that anything like that could happen,” Dwork said. “I always knew I was innocent, and I wasn’t ashamed of what I was or what I am. It was just a sad period. I didn’t know frankly at that point it would affect the rest of my life.”




*** I guess I should say---- better late than never at all......... but I kinda hafta feel and say.......this poor bastard was robbed. All the\ose years of service, and now the poor fella has one foot, you know where. Kinda like a life sentence for doing nothing but serving your country and being a good citizen.



Ask not, what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.....uh huh.....
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Old September 16th, 2011, 10:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Kaye View Post
*** I guess I should say---- better late than never at all......... but I kinda hafta feel and say.......this poor bastard was robbed. All the\ose years of service, and now the poor fella has one foot, you know where. Kinda like a life sentence for doing nothing but serving your country and being a good citizen.



Ask not, what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.....uh huh.....
I agree. I just think it's interesting that things are changing now, when as the article notes there was really nothing preventing the DoD from doing the right thing before.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 11:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skrekk View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Kaye' timestamp='1316235816' post='354815

*** I guess I should say---- better late than never at all......... but I kinda hafta feel and say.......this poor bastard was robbed. All the\ose years of service, and now the poor fella has one foot, you know where. Kinda like a life sentence for doing nothing but serving your country and being a good citizen.



Ask not, what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.....uh huh.....
I agree. I just think it's interesting that things are changing now, when as the article notes there was really nothing preventing the DoD from doing the right thing before.


There was. Pure bigotry. What sickened me more is what was said in the article, "If I was his father I would have cut off his genitals." Seriously. That's how much hate there was and there still is in the world for homosexuals. People at one time did, in fact, castrate homosexuals, force lobotomies onto them, electroshock, and many other questionable experiments to "cure teh gay." Down to hanging and lynching and burning. And now the bigots are even trying to deny that those things even happened, or to try to play them down. Just like neo-Nazis who try to say "Oh, the Holocaust never happened."



Its sick what a person will do to another just for being different, even if those differences do not pose any threat or have any impact on that person.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 07:13 AM   #6
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']Just like neo-Nazis who try to say "Oh, the Holocaust never happened."
Good point - that's exactly what the modern homophobes here do all the time.



I wonder if the policy change is related to the DoJ's amicus briefs regarding DOMA, where they outlined the history of persecution of gays by the feds? Maybe that woke up someone's conscience.



One thing is certain - this wouldn't be happening under a Republican administration.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 09:07 AM   #7
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I am very happy for this man that he has finally been vindicated.



And very sad for the years that he had to live without the honor he should have received as a member of "The Greatest Generation." We honor our WWII vets because they really did lay their lives on the line for the sake of, not only their own countries, but for all of our allies. But this honorable man was denied the right to serve, denied the benefits he deserved and slapped with a label for the rest of his life just because people did not approve of who he loved.



Saddest of all was this:



Quote:
Dwork said he had assumed his love letters had fallen into the wrong hands and led to his discharge. After he recently learned the truth, he contacted his former boyfriend, who had long ago married and had children. The man did not want to discuss the matter, Dwork said.


Sadder for his former boyfriend, even than for Dwork. Some deep denial still going on there even after more than half a century.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 09:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by skrekk View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaperAlchemist' timestamp='1316244146' post='354822
']Just like neo-Nazis who try to say "Oh, the Holocaust never happened."
Good point - that's exactly what the modern homophobes here do all the time.



I wonder if the policy change is related to the DoJ's amicus briefs regarding DOMA, where they outlined the history of persecution of gays by the feds? Maybe that woke up someone's conscience.



One thing is certain - this wouldn't be happening under a Republican administration.
Right. We older gay people really never had anything to worry about.



We just hid in our closets because..... Damn, I can't think of any reason why we would want to do that if we were not in danger of being persecuted.
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Old September 17th, 2011, 09:20 AM   #9
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Just an aside, did anyone else notice the pictures of Dwork as a young man? He was very handsome and looked really sharp in his uniform.
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Old September 18th, 2011, 07:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
After he recently learned the truth, he contacted his former boyfriend, who had long ago married and had children. The man did not want to discuss the matter, Dwork said.


Ruins a man's life and then doesn't "want to discuss the matter."

What a pussy cowardly creep.

I hope he doesn't have a peaceful night's sleep the rest of his life.
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