Donald Hallman served in the United States military from 1953 through 1955, but after getting caught meeting with a young man in Frankfurt, he was given an “undesirable” discharge for being a “Class II homosexual”.
Aside from merely being an insult, the status disqualified Private Hallman from ever claiming any veterans benefits, and would also show up on employment checks. So, Donald Hallman lied, keeping his entire military record a secret from his family, rather than explain the humiliating discharge.
He spent some sixty years holding on to that secret – until the ban on openly gay soldiers finally was lifted with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2010.
And, after revealing his secret to his daughter just last year, he gathered the courage to take his case to the Army Review Board, appealing for his ‘undesirable’ discharge status to be revoked.
That request was granted last week.
The LGBT group Stonewall Columbus helped Hallman through the process:
“We are SO very proud to announce that Veteran Donald Hallman has received his honorable discharge after once being given an “undesirable” discharge and removed from the Army in 1955.We have been working with Don through our ‘LGBT Veterans Discharge Review Program’ since last June and we are so proud to announce this great news! We sincerely want to thank Senator Sherrod Brown and his staff for collaboration with us to this happy end and for demanding a timely and appropriate response from the Army Review Board.”There are an estimated 100,000 US citizens who have been discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation.
That’s bad enough, but to block them from claiming their benefits after serving their country is disgusting.
Hopefully Donald Hallman’s story will spur on other gay and lesbian vets to step forward and demand the respect and benefits they deserve. And, hopefully, it won’t take sixty years.