SLDN scoffs at DOD’s “14 benefits”

Just one day after being served notice that a federal lawsuit has been launched against it, the Department of Defense issued a press release saying it has “now identified a total of 14 benefits” available to the “beneficiaries” of all service members “regardless of sexual orientation.”

DOD spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said, in the October 28 state, saying the department identified eight benefits on September 20, just before repeal of the federal law banning openly gay servicemembers went into effect. She said DOD has now identified six more.

“Finally,” said Lainez, “in connection with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the Defense Department is engaged in a careful and deliberate review of the possibility of revising the eligibility for additional benefits, if legally permitted.”

Zeke Stokes, communications director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which filed a lawsuit October 27, seeking equal benefits for gay servicemembers, said, “This does nothing to change our lawsuit.”

SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said, “The benefits outlined today were, in fact, available even before repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The 14 benefits identified by the DOD press release include the right to “designate beneficiaries of their choosing” for: casualty notification, survivor benefit for retirees, group life insurance, veterans group life insurance, travel and transportation allowance for attendance at “yellow ribbon reintegration” events, receipt of effects of deceased servicemember, post-Vietnam-era Veterans Assistance, active duty death benefit, death gratuity, final settlement of accounts, wounded warrior caregiver, thrift savings plan,  escorts when servicemember is deceased or missing, and the right to be identified as a person having interest in the status of a missing servicemember.

SLDN’s Sarvis reiterated, as he said Thursday, that his organization is “not advocating any special treatment” for gay servicemembers, “but we want to underscore that all military families should be treated the same when it comes to recognition, benefits and family support.”


DOD’s press release said service members “are encouraged” to contact their personnel offices for more information.

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