At Long Last, Military Is ’MAPping’ Out DADT’s End
Serving in silence is bullshit. But for nearly 15 years, under the nearly defunct "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT) policy it was necessary. Communication between gay and lesbian service members was a bit of an art form. It was all very "secret handshake" and whispers in the dark. Oh, you’d better hope against hope that your gaydar wasn’t rusty.
These days, however, the lines of communication are about as open as the closet door. Seek and you shall find. One such resource for LGB (no T; not yet) servicemembers is a new program called the Military Acceptance Program, otherwise known as MAP. What a great acronym for an organization that does exactly that: Maps out the repeal process - from beginning to end - for each respective service.
MAP is a bit of a wet dream for gay veterans. A project like this is something that seemed as difficult as landing on Mars. Sure, we have the capability and know how to do it.
But would it ever happen? Well, it has happened and it will have a lasting impact for many years to come. Military talking to military, through resource and fact, packs a bigger punch than any bomb or gun in existence. MAP is about taking care of our own.
MAP, as it stands, is an infant. The project is just two-months old.
Former Marine Corps officer Kristen Kavanaugh co-founded MAP with colleagues and faculty from the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, San Diego Academic Center.
"At first, all we knew is that we wanted to support servicemembers through the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," states Kavanaugh, "After talking with military leaders about the implementation process it became clear that the services had no way to directly learn and address the questions and concerns of the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) servicemembers most impacted by the repeal."
The MAP team quickly held a focus group with 15 local LGB servicemembers. The team used this forum to gain a better understanding of the groups’ questions, concerns and ideas of how best to support them before, during and after the repeal. Their input formed the foundation of the new website and the organization’s mission.
"MAP fills a unique and important space, specifically in the DADT repeal world," Jasper Kump, co-founder and director of communications for MAP, said. "There are already several strong organizations focused on various aspects of the repeal of DADT and beyond. From lobbying and political forces to legal and family-based organizations, they have all blazed a trail for the repeal and continue to forge our way to equality for LBG service members."