Last year, around this time actually, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, came to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego where I was working as a Series Commander for recruit training. I was in the middle of my second cycle in that position, and I was eager to hear what our Commandant had to say about the status of our Corps, from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to personnel issues, particularly the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I had been following the news on DADT closely for a year, for what are now obvious reasons. Gen Amos had recently testified before Congress that the existing policy was working fine and he was not inclined to repeal the existing policy while Marines were engaged in combat operations on two fronts. The results of the Comprehensive Review Working Group had been compiled and released, and the Marines were clearly the most resistant to changing the 18 year-old policy.
The general opened the session by introducing his wife, who was traveling with him. He said that he wouldn’t be where he was today without her many years of sacrifice and support. I honestly have no idea what he said after that. I was overcome by the contradiction between that statement and his testimony on keeping DADT in place and spent the next twenty minutes alternating between finding the appropriate wording for asking the Commandant a question and convincing myself that I should just keep my mouth shut. Anyone who knows me also knows that once an idea enters my head, there’s really only one way things can go–I am, after all, a Marine.
I waited for the questions to begin, raised my hand, and was handed a microphone. “Good morning, General. My name is Captain Matthew Phelps, I’m a Series Commander with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. Sir, in light of the recent issue of the proposed repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, can you tell us how, as leaders, we can reconcile the conflict between stressing the importance of family…