Don't Ask - Don't Tell
After receiving communications from RADM Joe Vasey who was commander of AO-146 several years after I served
aboard her, I need to stop thinking there is something I can do to help better the worlds thinking of this subject.
Below is a record of my last communications. I will not record the letter I wrote.  -  February 13, 2010

For addtional information read: A Colonel of Truth

Sent: Saturday, February 06, 2010 2:14 PM
Subject: Making A Differenc

Can you lead me to a person who is good at writing an educated and eye catching letter?
The subject is “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL”.

I want to try and help keep this slogan stay in affect. I have written a letter explaining why I think the slogan and practice that goes with it, needs to stay in effect. The letter is attached (not on this web page) and not written to well. In 1955 an event on this subject happened to me, and it ruined my navy career.

A year ago, while helping to make the old Sand Point Naval Air Station become a historic district, I made friends with a past commander, Captain Ronald Miller. I gave him this letter and he told me to throw it away and start over. He said: Why?  Because the letter gets a few seconds of someone's attention - at best.  Because the purpose of the letter must be crystal clear. I suggest that you clearly state what action you want right at the beginning. Then you follow with up to 4 short, clear paragraphs with terse explanations of why you want it."

Captain Miller also told me:
"Now, are you sitting down?  Are you ready? I'M THE GUY WHO ORIGINATED "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL."

Short story - I was on my 3rd tour in BuPers.  I had three small divisions, and my office was a sliding door away from the "Officer Distribution" Admiral.  I was so close that I could touch the door from my desk, and the admiral was just a bit further from it on the other side. That would have been Admiral Trost, who went on to become the CNO.

One of my divisions consisted of four very smart guys.  One day, the Chief of Naval Personnel, Admiral Watkins (later Head, Dept. of Energy) called a meeting to discuss the festering question of what to do with gays in the military.  It had become a huge, thorny, disruptive problem, and the "heavies" were squirming and sweating.

After the meeting with Adm Watkins, where he dumped the problem on "me", my group adjourned back to my office where we did some sweating and squirming too.  Then one of my guys, a short, dark submarine officer, named Leonard Santos, suggested that we should just ignore the gays - essentially, just make it a "don't ask, don't tell situation".  Made sense, so we took it to the chief. He liked it, the Pentagon liked it, and it became official policy. That would have been 1975 or 76.

If you are interested, I'll tell you about my problems at Sand Point.

So Joe, if you can help, it would be appreciated

Vern Bouwman

From: Joe Vasey
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:26 PM
To: Vern Bouwman
Subject: Re: Making A Difference

Hi Vern

I have put a lot of thought into your diilemma and agree with the advice you received from Captain  Mlliler. Even if an article is eventually published it only gets peoples momentary attention at best. Moreover, your present formulation, while embracing a central theme of great importance tends to ramble and even  professional editors would have difficullty with it without a major overhaul.

Fyi from reports I have recently read it now appears that the entire subject may be deferred for two years, pending further study of how to phase it in. If I can find the article will forward to you. It appears that high officials in Washington may be having second thoughts on the desirability of making such a major change now.  

Some of the critical myths about the current DADT policy are being exposed. For example,homosexuals are NOT barred from voluntarily enlisting in the armed services as alleged by Gay rights groups.  The current enlistment policy is careful in omitting any reference to sexual preference. 

It simply is not right to say as many allege that current policy makes homosexuals "live with a lie."  Current policy is crafted to make sure that homsexual behavior is unacceptable, just as hetrosexual misbehavior is unacceptable.  It is irrelevant for the pro-gay rights groups to proclaim that the majority of Americans want the law policy repealed.  Only a scant number of them have ever served in the military at any time, nor do they have any propensity to do so.

And finally Vern I suggest you erase the entire subject from your mind. You have had a most successful and proud civilian career, raised a fine family and now in your retirement years have initiated a naval history project we can alll be proud of..

All the best;  Joe.
(RADM Lloyd "Joe" Vasey, Retired)