Although America has come a long way throughout the years to end military discrimination, it unfortunately still occurs today. Whether members face racial, gender, medical or another type of discrimination, U.S. military members still suffer from shame and harassment.
How did segregated units in the military begin and end?
When the U.S. military formed, African Americans had an active role during the war. However, it was not until the Civil War when African Americans were forced to fight in racially separated units. Congress made racial segregation in the military a government policy in 1869, and African Americans were obligated to remain segregated during the Spanish American War and World War I. The policy began to diminish during World War II, when African American leaders noted the contradiction of fighting against Nazi racism while having segregated units. President Harry S. Truman passed Executive Order 9981 in 1948 to end segregation in the military. However, this did not come into play until a few years later.
African Americans are not the only minority group that has encountered racial discrimination. Three percent of white officers and 27 percent of Hispanic and African American officers have reported racial discrimination.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass” military policy was first introduced in 1993 during President Bill Clinton’s administration. The policy forced military members to hide their sexual orientation from others, living shameful and dishonest lives. If a member went against this policy, he or she not only faced termination, but also harassment, violence, and even murder. It was not until September 20, 2011, when President Barack Obama signed to end this discriminating policy against gay members. Between 1994 and 2010, 10 million members were fired because of their openness about their sexual orientation.
Women have been banned from participating in units that involve direct ground combat. Because of this, they are unable to be assigned major assignments that can lead to career advancement. Women also suffer from harassment. One in five women have experienced military sexual trauma, which refers to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening acts of sexual harassment. This may include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing, threatening sexual remarks, or sexual advances. Women are also twice as more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
Discrimination Against Members With Health Problems
Prior to 2004, members suffering from ADD or ADHD were unable to enlist completely. Now a member with ADD or ADHD is only unable to enlist if he or she is on medication, or shows distracting symptoms.
Unfortunately, this is not the only kind of health discrimination. If a member has an illness that the army is not responsible for, such as a hereditary or congenial conditions, they are discharged without benefits or health insurance.
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