The Government Accountability Office released a report on Thursday discussing the costs associated with the implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in recent years. The analysis says that discharges of LGBT service members under the law cost nearly $200 million for six years alone between 2004 and 2009, primarily in order to recruit and train the discharges’ replacements.
The report notes that the law cost the Pentagon an average of $52,800 per discharge, including administrative costs such as legal work, processing, and responding to inquiries, which totaled about $8 million. The military saw the removal of 3,664 troops during this period—more than 1,400 of whom had critical jobs or spoke important foreign languages. The Detroit Free Press notes that 98% of these troops were enlisted, and about 34% of the discharges were female, even though women only make up about 14% of the total active-duty force. The report was compiled at the request of Congressional Democrats a year ago, according to On Top Magazine.
Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued a statement to the Windy City Times and other outlets in response. “Today’s GAO report underscores that the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law not only deprives the military of the qualified Americans it needs, but has also been a huge waste of taxpayer dollars … These numbers remind us why it’s time to move forward on certification,” he pointed out.
More than 13,000 troops were discharged in total under the law since its inception in 1993, including thousands who held “critical” positions as translators, voice interceptors, data processing technicians, infantrymen, and special security forces. This report was the latest update since data released in 2005, in which the GAO put the estimate of costs at over $190 million, bringing the total to almost $400 million.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed by a Senate vote in December, but its implementation is pending certification by the President and other officials that the military is prepared for the change. GLAAD will continue to report on this and other coverage of LGBT personnel to ensure its fair and accurate representation of our community.