How 'Don't Tell' Translates
Then came the surprise room inspection that snagged Alastair Gamble and his partner, raising the level of anxiety for gays at the DLI.
Glover's best friend was another gay linguist. He received orders to ship out to Fort Campbell, an Army post in Kentucky dreaded among gay service members. In 1999, Pfc. Barry Winchell was bashed to death in his barracks by a fellow solider for being gay. Rather than shipping out to Fort Campbell, Glover's friend declared his homosexuality and was discharged.
Glover graduated from the Arabic program in 2002, but emotionally she was sliding. Her first sergeant suggested she see a counselor. Finally, she confessed her problem: She was exhausted from hiding her identity. Confirming Glover's fears, the counselor asked her for the name and phone number of her commander. Not long after, she was ordered to see an Army psychiatrist.
Glover sat down at her computer. After a year of intense internal struggle, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of both the United States Army and my mental well-being that I inform you that I am a lesbian. She carried the letter in her pocket for two days. When she finally gave it to her commander, he accused her of lying. It's possible that he was looking the other way in order to keep her. In frustration, Glover wrote an essay about her experience living under "don't ask, don't tell" and mailed it to the Monterey County Herald.
Within a week, she was shipped to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Tex., for intelligence training. In class one day, a sergeant used a mocking lisp as he talked about all the gay linguists discharged from the DLI.
Finally, Glover's letter-writing caught up with her. She was ordered to report to battalion headquarters, where the captain was holding a copy of the op-ed piece from the Monterey paper. She was recommended for a general discharge, a less-than-honorable characterization that could have meant no veterans' benefits and would send up a red flag to potential employers. With the help of an Army lawyer, she won an honorable discharge.
Glover's last day was March 24, 2003. "It was a day of feeling nothing," she said. She drove to Fort Hood to sign her paperwork. The hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles that usually stretched for acres were in Iraq.
She cleaned out her barracks room. In an act of symbolism, she left one of her Army uniforms -- her class dress uniform -- hanging in the closet.
Instead of relief, Glover felt a sense of disloyalty. She moved to Washington, where she applied for a job at the National Security Agency. Since her security clearance had been revoked, a background check would take months. She took a job with the pool company. In what she calls an act of "karmic irony," one of the pools she cleaned each week was owned by Pat Buchanan.
On the same day in late October that car bombs hit the Red Cross and police stations in Baghdad, killing 35, Glover had eight pools on her route. She wore Army shorts and listened to the radio as she drove from house to house. Rain slashed down sideways. She finished a job in Foxhall by scribbling a note for the homeowner: "Your skimmer has been reopened! Thank you, Cathie!"
Finally, her luck changed. Three weeks ago, she was called for an interview with a nonprofit organization in Washington that builds private enterprise overseas. Her Arabic sealed the deal. The salary: $28,000, with possible travel to Cairo.
To brush up, Glover dug out her dog-eared Arabic-English dictionary from her days at the DLI. On the inside page was the inscription she'd written as a new soldier: "Property of the U.S. Government (just like my head!!)"
Glover looked at the exuberant inscription. "They wasted me," she said.
Editor's note: This article by Anne Hull, was acquired by washingtonpost.com on December 3, 2003.
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