Fort Campbell Soldiers Respond to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal

Repeal of the military’s 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy concerning gay service members could mean big changes at Fort Campbell over the next few months.

One officer said this about the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”: “No one has any issues with it at all.” This former brigade commander did not, however, want to go on the record.

A few enlisted members of the 101st Airborne didn’t mind sharing their thoughts.

ARTIS: “I know numerous gay soldiers that I serve with, that are in my company, that I fight side-by-side with.”

Pvt. Devere Artis will deploy to Afghanistan in March. At 22 years old, he’s already served two tours.

Artis says he’s fine with lifting the ban on serving openly, but mostly so he’ll know for sure who is gay. He says he still doesn’t want homosexual behavior in his face.

ARTIS: “You like flowers and daisies, like flowers and daisies, but don’t do it while we’re trying to stick together so we can come back alive.”

One soldier told me she feared for the wellbeing of infantry members who come out.

The Department of Defense survey regarding “don’t ask, don’t tell” indicates broad support or indifference toward repeal, about 70 percent of returned surveys, but frontline troops are more mixed. Nearly 50 percent of the Army’s combat elements said repeal would have a negative effect.

Spc. Brad Baldwin leaves for Afghanistan next year and says he sides with those who don’t see any problems.

BALDWIN: “Still going to go do my job, do my duty, and nothing’s going to change just because some policy changes and somebody’s living a different lifestyle than me.”

The commander of the 101st Airborne has said his 17,000 troops in Afghanistan have bigger concerns. Maj. Gen. John Campbell told reporters this fall that for a soldier on the front lines, repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell is “probably the farthest thing from their mind.”

Please keep your community civil. Comments will be moderated prior to posting, and Nashville Public Radio reserves the right to approve them at its discretion. Comments containing links promoting goods, services - even noble organizations - will not be published. Your comments may include external links, but all comments with links will be delayed as they are reviewed. Comments containing profanity will be rejected.