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"Don’t ask, don’t tell" was a compromise melded together almost two decades ago to appease those who believed gays would disrupt the operational readiness and discipline of our armed forces.

A survey of recently returned Iraq and Afghanistan veterans sheds doubt on this belief, as 73 percent of respondents felt "comfortable" serving alongside a gay servicemember.

Our military has lost thousands of highly trained and extremely skilled veterans since 1993. Some of them were translators who required more than a year of intensive and expensive training. When discharged, they simply cannot be replaced like a 7-Eleven security guard.

This waste of taxpayer money used for training, recruitment and retraining of replacements is unnecessary. The critical delay that follows getting others capable has a direct, negative and potentially bloody impact on missions in the wars being fought now and in the future.

Whether wasting expensive fuel for generators by cranking up air conditioners when no one is home or while others shiver, or idling thirsty vehicles for extended periods — waste equals tax money burned when it should be invested in people and training.

Minorities and women were once segregated and treated as second-class soldiers and airmen for many years for reasons eerily similar to the ones being used now.

The writer of the March 26 letter "Don’t tamper with ‘don’t ask’" states that "all men are created equally." I wonder how preventing highly trained and invaluable gay soldiers from defending "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" based solely on moral grounds, misinformation or prejudice is in line with American (or Christian) principles of freedom and open-armed acceptance?

Apparently, our allies in Canada, Israel, Germany and the United Kingdom have opened the floodgates to storms of "character flaws" in their ranks. Many of us would say one glaring flaw with our comparative policy is that we are so behind the modern times.

Staff Sgt. Van BerryContingency Operating BaseCamp Speicher, Iraq

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