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Ex-Sailor Shares Experience With Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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Video published October 22, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Joseph Rocha was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2007 after admitting he is gay. We'll hear about his experience in the military and find out why he hopes to re-enlist.

Joseph Rocha was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2007 after admitting he is gay. We'll hear about his experience in the military and find out why he hopes to reenlist.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CURRENT AND FORMER GAY SERVICE MEMBERS HAVE BEEN WAITING TO SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN OVER THE DON'T ASK DON'T TELL. THE DISTRICT JUDGE SAID THAT IT VIOLATES DUE PROCESS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT APPEALED THE RULEING AND ON WEDNESDAY THE PIN INJUNCTION WAS FROZEN. S IN T HIS IS A VERY SENSITIVE TOPIC ESPECIALLY FROM THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN DISCHARGEED BEING OPENLY GAY.

HE WAS DISCHARGEED AND IS NOW ATTENDING THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO. YOU WERE A WITNESS IN THE FEDERAL COURT CASE, HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HEARD THAT THE IF THE JUDGE ISSUED THE INJUNCTION AGAINST THE MILITARYIES DON'T ASK DON'T TELL. ? T E L L?

I THINK WE WERE OVERWHELMED OVER IT. WE KNEW THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WOULD FIGHT IT. THEY DID FIGHT IT. WE NOW HAVE A FEDERAL COURT JUDGE THAT IS KNOWN TO BE CONSERVATIVE AND KNOWN KNOWN TO BE A NO NONSENSE JUDGE. AND IT'S THAT MIGHT HAVE LANGUAGE --AND IT'S THAT KIND OF LANGUAGE THAT WILL MOVE THE ISSUE FORWARD.

WHAT ABOUT THE DECISION OF FIRING OR LETTING GO MILITARY PEOPLE IN THE HANDS OF A PANEL OF FIVE. I'M GLAD THAT WE ARE MAKING IT MORE COMPLICATEED TO KICK PEOPLE OUT. BUT REGARDLESS THE FACT IS IT'S NOT RIGHT IN ANY WAY THAT WE ARE EVEN CONSIDERING FIRE APPROXIMATING MEN AND WOMEN THAT ARE WILLING TO DIE A WAR THAT THIS COUNTRY GOES TO AND ARE EQUALLY QUALIFIED AND IN NO WAY EFFECTING THE MISSION OR THE UNIT.

WHAT LED TO YOUR DISCHARGE IN 2 NOW WHO NOW AND -- DISCHARGE IN 2007, FOR A PERIOD OF 28 MONTHS WHILE I SERVED OVERSEAS AS A NAVY EXPLOSIVE DETECTION K-9 DETECH TORE9 DE-- DETECTOR, I WAS --I WAS ACCEPTED TO UNITED STATES NAVAL A ACADEMY AND I REALIZEED THAT I I HAD DONE NOTHING TO PRO ADVOCATE PROVOK THE ABUSE AND WAS NOT ABLE TO PREVENT IT. AND IT BECAME A PARENT TO ME THAT IT WAS NOT A WAY TO MOVE FORWARD. WE WILL BE CAUGHT AND DISGRACED FOR NO FAIR REASON AND I DECIDED THAT THAT WAS NOT A GOOD AND FAIR WAY TO LIVE. YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE IN THE MILL FATHER MILITARY, DID IT START RIGHT AWAY OR ON BOARD OR HOW DID IT PAN OUT OVER TIME DURING YOUR ENLISTMENT?

I DID WELL IN BOOT CAMP AND IN POLICE POLICE OFFICER SCHOOL AND I DID WELL IN THE MIDDLE EAST. IT WAS WHEN I GOT INTO THE SMALL ISOLATED UNIT WITH LITTLE TO NO OVERSIGHT, THAT I EXPERIENCED THIS. IT HIGHLIGHTS THE POLICY THAT I HAD NO PROBLEMS GETTING ALONG WITH ANYONE OR GAINING RESPECT IT WAS ONLY WHEN I WAS PUT INTO A CORNER INTO NIECE QUESTIONS THESE QUESTIONS ARE YOU GAY BECAUSE YOU WILL DO THIS OR NOT DO THAT. THE ABILITY TO SAY YES I AM LEAVE ME ALONE OR THE THE INABILITY TO SAY WHETHER I WAS OR NEOTEINIA ADDED ADD AD -- THAT ADDED TO PEOPLE WANTING TO KNOW IF I WAS OR NOT. AND SO NOW YOU DID THIS EXPERIENCE --THIS DID NOT STOP YOU TRIED TO REENLIST THIS WEEK?

YES.

WHAT HAPPENED?

BASED ON THE TRAUMA THAT OCCURRED, THE VA PUT ME ON ANTI~ DEPRESS ANTS AND THAT WAS A BAR AT LEAST THIS TIME WHEN I WENT IN, BUT I AM SURE THAT WE CAN CLEAR IT UP AND UNFORTUNATELY ALSO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SUCCEEDED TO GET A STAY FROM THE 9th CIRCUIT COURT SO THAT PROCESS, I WOULD NOT HAVE MADE IT FLEW FLAW THE IT FLEW THROUGH THE OFFICE PACKAGE PROCESS. I DO EXPECT THAT BY MAY WE WILL HAVE REPEALED THE POLICY.

YOU WANT TO REENLIST AGAIN, I DID PRIOR TO ANY OF WHAT HAPPENED HOWEVER SEAS I HAVE AN INCREDIBLE DESIRE TO SIEVE TO SERVE IS MY COUNTRY AND I'M A FRACTURE A FRACTURE --I WANT TO UP BRINGING AND MY FEELINGS HAVE NOT CHANGED WHATSOEVER ABOUT THE MILITARY. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ME IS AN UNFORTUNATE CASE OF DON'T ASK DON'T TELL ALLOWING FOR THE ABUSE. THAT'S IS WHY LIFE I'VE TRIED TO CONTRIBUTE IN WHAT WAY I CAN TO REPEAL THE POLICY. THIS POLICY IS AT ODDS WITH THE COUNTRY AND MILITARY. IT'S AT ODDS WITH WHAT WE BELIEVE IN AND WHAT WE STAND FOR.

I WAS GOING TO SAY, WRAP THAT IN A SENTENCE. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE POLICY'S IMPACT IS ON THE MILITARY?

WE ARE THE SECOND TO LAST EXHIBIT NUMBER KOINONIA COUNTRY -- >> KOINONIA IS ENFORCING

COUNTRY --I'M PROUD WHEN THE U.S. MILITARY CAN MOVE FORWARD FROM THIS. >> THANK YOU.

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