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‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Feedback Sought from Spouses

Pentagon officials this week are mailing out 150,000 new "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" surveys, this time seeking input from military spouses about the potential repeal of the law that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly.

"We understand the inextricable link between the families, servicemembers and readiness, and this survey is a way to try to better understand that," Gen. Carter F. Ham, U.S. Army Europe commander, said in a Pentagon Channel interview.

Ham and Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, were appointed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to head a special review panel that's studying the possible implications on the military should Congress decide to repeal the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly.


"What we're trying to gauge is an assessment that if this law is repealed, and this 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy is changed, what will that mean to our families?" Ham told the Pentagon Channel. "By better understanding the impacts of possible repeal, we'll be able to craft policies, procedures, education and training to address those issues."

The group has been meeting with troops and family members since February. The surveys are important to the panel's research, Ham added, because time and financial constraints preclude meeting with every servicemember and spouse.

The surveys give the panel a baseline of information that best represents the military's 2.2 million servicemembers and their families, the general said. Last month, 400,000 surveys were e-mailed to active-duty and reserve-component troops throughout the force.