Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonEx-CBO director calls for more than trillion in coronavirus stimulus spending Overnight Defense: Trump’s move to use military in US sparks backlash | Defense officials take heat | Air Force head calls Floyd’s death ‘a national tragedy’ Democrats blast Trump’s use of military against protests MORE (D-Mass.) on Thursday unveiled a plan to restore benefits to troops who were discharged under the Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The congressman said over 100,000 gay service members missed out on the GI Bill and other health benefits after they were less-than-honorably discharged under the policy, which barred openly gay or bisexual people from serving in the military. It was repealed in 2010.
The plan from Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, would shift the burden of appealing discharges away from veterans and instead make it the responsibility of the military’s correction and discharge review boards.
“The military record correction and discharge review boards will examine the discharge status of everyone to determine who was separated for sexual orientation or ‘homosexual activity.’ Unless the military can produce records to justify the discharge on other grounds, each veteran’s status will be automatically upgraded to honorable–restoring the benefits that they earned and so rightly deserve,” Moulton said in a statement.
The proposal would also ensure that the review boards work with veterans with newly upgraded discharge status to help them understand their benefits and update the records of deceased service members to reflect the honorable discharge.
Moulton noted statistics that say veterans who received an other-than-honorable discharge face difficulties finding employment and disproportionately fall into homelessness.
“For too long, our country has discriminated against LGBTQ veterans who put their lives on the line for our freedom. It’s time to fix this injustice for good, and that’s exactly what I will do as President,” he said.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who launched his White House bid in April, has languished in early primary polls. He is seeking to leverage his foreign policy chops and military experience to differentiate himself in a crowded Democratic primary field.
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