Posted at 03:36 PM ET, 09/20/2011

DADT means ‘undesirable’ discharge rescinded for one man — What about the rest?


Mel Dwork wears his Navy cap at his home in New York in this Sept. 12, 2011 photo. (Seth Wenig - Associated Press)
Mel Dwork was expelled from the Navy nearly 70 years ago for being gay.

After he was found writing love letters to his boyfriend, also in the Navy, Dwork was thrown into a brig. An officer at training school told the class that if he were Dwork's father, he would castrate him. A psychologist who evaluated Dwork said he acted in an effeminate manner and had an “interest in female attire, household furnishings, and shopping.”

Now, with the repeal of the policy “don’t ask don’t tell,” the Navy has chosen to apologize for all that by changing Dwork’s discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable,” the Advocate reports.


Photographs of Melvin Dwork, taken in 1943, when he was in the Navy. (Seth Wenig - AP)
Dwork, who is now a New York-based interior designer, told the Associated Press that the term “undesirable” discharge was possibly the “worst word they could have used.”

“To me it was a terrible insult. It had to be righted,” he said.

Under his new “honorable” discharge, Dwork will be able to receive benefits, such as health care, and a proper military burial.

Dwork is the first WWII veteran to achieve a corrected discharge, after the Board of Corrections of Navy Records in Washington, D.C. heard his case and saw he had an “exemplary period of active duty.”

But dozens of other veterans have also stepped forward asking for their records to be corrected.

Shawn Tamon Bennett, another former member of the Navy, commented on the story about Dwork, “I wonder if I can get mine changed now too?”

Another man who could be under consideration is gay rights activist Peter Fiske, who received a general discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1963 because he had an affair with his sergeant.

“As a gay man discharged in 1963, it still hurts, but the end of DADT means full equality for service members. I never thought I would see it. We did it! Hurray for Mr Dwork!” Fiske commented on the news.

Another commentator had his own suggestion for how the Pentagon could right matters: “Maybe our government will think in terms of the largesse of this repeal and offer an apology to those servicemembers who were discharged ‘undesirably,’” he wrote.

By  |  03:36 PM ET, 09/20/2011

Tags:  National, DADT, navy, gay

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company