Academic journal article Military Review

ASK & TELL: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out

Academic journal article Military Review

ASK & TELL: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out

Article excerpt

ASK & TELL: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out, Steve Estes, University ofNorth Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2007,280 pages, $29.95.

Steve Estes, a social sciences professor at Sonoma State University, former interviewer for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and author of several works on civil rights has garnered the assistance of a number of activist organizations and veterans groups to conduct more than 50 interviews with veterans from World War II up through the current war in Iraq. The result is that his new book, Ask & Tell, is the only work on this topic that has such historical breadth. The salient findings arising from Estes's research are that gays and lesbians are not security risks, do not adversely affect combat effectiveness or morale, and offer no threats to the privacy of others.

Estes interviewed veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the 1991 Gulf War, the Kosovo intervention, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and several who served during interwar periods. Included in the group are three retired flag officers. He records his findings in highly engaging first-person narratives via the interview process and provides valuable introductory notes prior to each account that outline the military policies toward homosexuals during the eras hi which the veterans served. Throughout, Estes provides incisive commentary.

Aside from individual confrontations with policies banning open homosexuality, the character of service of most of Estes's interviewees was not much different from that of their heterosexual counterparts. …

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