VFW Issues Warning to DoD that Reversing Homosexual Ban Could End All-Volunteer Military

By Fred Lucas | December 21, 2010 | 4:01 AM EST

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs gestures during the daily briefing at the White House on Monday, Dec. 20, 2010 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – While President Barack Obama prepares to sign legislation into law on Wednesday that would repeal the prohibition (10, USC 654) against homosexuals serving in the military, the Veterans of Foreign Wars issued a statement warning that implementation of the new law should proceed with caution and take into consideration the opposition of nearly 60 percent of combat troops who say the repeal will have “a negative or very negative impact on unit cohesion and performance.”

The VFW also warned that allowing open homosexuals in the armed forces – a new “social experiment” – could bring an end to America’s all-volunteer army.

The White House says the president will sign the bill at 9:15 a.m. EST on Wednesday. The legislation passed in the Senate, 65-31, this weekend; it passed last Wednesday in the House of Representatives, 250-175.

“The president will sign into law the repeal of that policy on Wednesday,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Monday. “We know that because of the attitudinal studies the Pentagon conducted, we know that the vast majority of those surveyed don’t believe that in any way this will be disruptive.”

However, the nation’s largest veterans' organization said the Pentagon’s survey might not have been entirely accurate. The Veterans of Foreign Wars issued a statement on Sunday urging caution in ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The Defense Department survey said 70 percent of the U.S. military believes repeal would have little or no impact on unit performance, but the VFW points out that almost 60 percent of those surveyed from the combat arms profession “said repeal would have a negative or very negative impact on unit cohesion and performance.”

“The majority of the fighting and dying in our nation's wars has always been done by the infantry, and if those at the tip of the spear have a problem with repeal, then it would behoove everyone to pay more attention to their concerns than those who have no vested interest in repeal’s success or failure,” VFW National Commander Richard L. Eubank, a retired Marine and Vietnam War combat veteran from Eugene, Ore., said in the statement.

“If implementation is to occur, it must be done cautiously and with the interests of the military and nation first and foremost, otherwise this social experiment could spell the end of America's all-volunteer military, which is not a price this nation appears to be willing to pay,” said Eubank.

He also said, “The acceptance of open homosexuality and the creation and enforcement of new policies could be far more difficult to implement than repeal advocates ever envisioned.”

The VFW and its local chapters have 2.1 million members nationally.

“Homosexuals have and will continue to serve in uniform with great honor and dignity because they understand the military is all about the team, whereas repeal advocates are focused primarily on pushing a social agenda about individual rights,” Eubank said. “National security, unit cohesion and morale are the furthest things from their minds.”

Under the law (10, USC 654), homosexuals have been barred from military service. But in 1993, the Defense Department implemented the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited the military from asking about a soldier’s sexual preference and prohibited gay enlistees from openly talking about their preferences.

Gibbs did not directly answer questions from reporters on Monday about what will happen to service members who may be discharged for homosexuality between the time that Congress approved the law – on Dec. 18 – and when the Pentagon implements it, for which a date has not been set.

In a related question, Gibbs said he was unaware whether anyone talked to President Obama about a recent statement by former President Jimmy Carter that the United States may be ready to elect a gay president.