[I am the noncommissioned officer in charge of Freedom Radio, American Forces Network Baghdad, and write to offer my personal opinion and not as a staff member of AFN.]

I have been battling the "teamwork" issue for quite some time ("If gays can serve openly, will straights still want to?," article, Nov. 18). We have spent way too much time during this war separating the team. Politics and the military should never coexist at the lower levels (leave it to the generals; that is what they are here for). Unfortunately, this coexistence is so much more prevalent now than I have ever seen in my 13 years [in the military]. I don’t care if the soldier next to me is black, white, man, woman, straight or gay. I just want to know that that person can accurately and effectively engage every mission. When the time comes, we all have to protect the person next to us.

Now that I have said that, if the ["don’t ask, don’t tell"] law is dropped, I will leave the military. This is not because I have a problem with gays. I just choose not to live in a society where someone’s personal life gets paraded around in my face all the time and I am told I have to accept it. (I currently see this problem with women in the service — "you need to respect me because I am a woman"). If we just treat everyone like they are part of the team and leave the personal life at home (where it belongs), we may not waste the next 60-to-100 years trying to make everyone accept homosexuality.

Message to Congress: If everyone can keep their mouths shut about their personal lives and just coexist as a team (like every branch of service preaches), I may reconsider my decision, along with many others like me who are not appalled by gays in the military, just tired of hearing about it.

Staff Sgt. David M. BaezBaghdad

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