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Kansas City Vet: Farewell to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

September 21, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is history.

The controversial law requiring gay military members to stay closeted in order to serve expired this week, bringing cheers from many veterans.

Dr. Beth Schissel, a pediatric emergency physician in Kansas City, was forced out of the Air Force after she acknowledged she was gay. She says it's time for troops to stop serving in silence in order to serve their country.

"I just think this is a hugely important message to be sending to people, especially when you look at the military as being the No. 1 employer in the country, and now you cannot discriminate based upon somebody's sexual orientation. That's enormous."

Schissel says the repeal will have a positive impact on youths who are bullied.

"I think it's going to matter, and I'm hopeful that it's going to be a step in the right direction for some of those youth who are being bullied in school. Or there's a person who can say, 'Hey, they let gay people serve in the military and fight to protect our country. Knock it off. Stop it. Shut up. Don't be saying that kind of stuff.' "

Schissel says she's not sure if she wants to re-enlist now that DADT has been repealed. The Department of Defense is downplaying the action, and the Pentagon has said repeatedly that for troops, the repeal will mean "business as usual."

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO