Photography jobs

With pride and dignity: Photograph by Vincent Cianni

Bert Bares

BERT BARES, HOUSTON, TX 2012
LANCE CORPORAL, US MARINE CORPS, FIRST ANGLICO
1966-1970

Served three tours of duty in Vietnam, received numerous commendations, awarded Purple Heart and Bronze Star

… I underwent an intense psychological evaluation and the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigated me. After ninety days, I was taken back to the air station for an audience. The night before, I had a field officer come to my room who said to me, “At tomorrow’s hearing, you will say that your combat experience was such that you did not know what you were doing, what you were saying was wrong. . And since you are a non-commissioned officer, you will be asking permission to file charges against yourself for making false charges and filing false government documents.

I did it. The psychiatrist said that I was in no way a homosexual. The NCIS investigation proved that there were aberrations from my childhood, and that in fact I was not gay. They fined me thirty days’ salary, imposed a thirty-day barracks restriction on me, and on the thirty-first day gave me my travel orders to return for my second tour of Vietnam. The major said to me on the day of my departure: “You have been an accomplished sailor. You messed up yourselves and your Marine Corps. You know what you need to do. I was supposed to die. And they made sure I was in situations where that would be highly likely. And I almost did.

Ray Chisme

RAY CHISM, BRONX, NY, 2010
AIRMAN SECOND CLASS, US AIR FORCE, 1963-67
SECOND CLASS PRIVATE, U.S. ARMY RESERVE, 1980-1984

Aircraft mechanic/office worker.
Other than Honorable Discharge, suspicion of homosexuality; prevented from re-enrolling

…I joined the Army Reserve from 1980 to 1984. I missed the camaraderie, being in an organization and working. I also wanted compensation for my enlistment. I didn’t have a lot of work. I appreciated the reservations while I was there, but I feel like I was cheated. They didn’t allow me to re-engage because they found out I was living with my uncle who was gay, which wasn’t really a reason to indicate I was gay. They had ways of watching people. Somehow they found out. They gave me a less than honorable discharge.

I wouldn’t say I’m angry as such. I just feel like there’s a strong need for military adjustment. These rules and regulations that they have are old and archaic and they should change and be updated and accept people as they are.

Heather Davis

HEATHER DAVIES, ROUND ROCK, TX, 2010
LIEUTENANT, U.S. NAVY, 1989-1998

Graduated from the United States Naval Academy
Operations Watch Officer and Officer Recruiter

resigning commission

The person I started dating in Wales really helped me find a new system or a new path that was really going to help me understand who I was a little bit more. Everything happened in the greatest secrecy because it was a very small base; we were both on the same basis.

I was still unaware of DADT. But the person I was dating was older than me and had been in the Navy a bit longer. She grew up under the old regime where there were active witch hunts to catch homosexuals in the act in order to get them out. And so I learned this culture in the army. I was terrified of it the whole time I was there. I thought that was what was going to happen to us, that they were going to come and someone was going to kick down the door and they were going to get a camera and they were going to take pictures; it was the fear in which I lived. I had no way to fix this. It was so confusing…

Victor Fehrenbach

VICTOR FEHRENBACH, BOISE, ID
2011 LIEUTENANT-COLONEL, US AIR FORCE, 1991-2011

F-15E fighter pilot. Retired
Tours of duty in Iraq, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, and in Kuwait and Afghanistan; 88 combat missions, 400 combat hours

Successfully fought his release on DADT

… At the time, I was the highest and most decorated person released under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. My job was to protect the Marines and soldiers in the field. The way I saw it was that if I’m the most senior person, I have the leadership role by default. I must lead and protect those under me. When I spoke to my commanding officer the day after the first interview, he said, “Are you coming to work on Thursday? We have a commander’s call. When I drove to work and put on my uniform, I found myself walking with a pride I had never felt before. I was about to enter (the squadron) and I would never have to hide or lie. I thought people would look away, ignore me. Nothing but handshakes and smiles and congratulations! – we are happy for you. Nothing but support from complete strangers to the brothers I went to war with, including my pal Flaps, with whom I flew over Baghdad. He said to me: “I am proud of you for your fight. You’ve always been a fighter, and that’s why I always want you with me in battle.

Katie Miller

KATIE MILLER, NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, 2010
AMERICAN MILITARY ACADEMY, WEST POINT, 2008-2010

Appointment resigning for moral reason

… Seeing my former comrades reacting so strongly is devastating, but leaving the people I really cared about and who supported me was even more devastating. I wasn’t going to be able to have it both ways. Either I was going to be in the Academy closet under some repressive military law, or I was going to be at Yale studying but not at an institution I truly believed in – the US military.

Vonda Todd and Mary Harris

VONDA TODD, AUSTIN, TX 2012
SECOND LIEUTENANT, SOUTH CAROLINA NATIONAL GUARD, 1983-1988
MAJOR, U.S. ARMY RESERVE, 1998-2012

Quartermaster, Fort Sam Houston, TX, retired

MARY HARRIS, AUSTIN, TX, 2012
MAJOR, US ARMY, 1982-1987
U.S. ARMY RESERVE, 1988-2002

Adjutant Generals Corps, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, retired.

The two were scrutinized and questioned in an investigation based on their health insurance beneficiary forms and shared home address.

VONDA: When a soldier has a complaint and he goes to the IG, he must make it a formal investigation. We don’t know what the original complaint was. But I’m sure it was the unit admin because she’s the only one who has access to those files. We could have turned around and filed a complaint over privacy issues.

A few years later, I had to get my civilian medical records for the military. I went to see my gynecologist and she wrote me that I was at high risk for HIV because I was gay. I had them transferred (to my command) without going through them.

MARRIED: Her unit administrator knew that Vonda was a good officer. She handed him the files, walked out of the room, and said, “Do what you have to do.” Vonda just pulled out this piece of paper. Not everyone has these kinds of stories. It depends on how a person feels about you. You look at someone the wrong way and your career is gone.

VONDA: My retirement ceremony took place in February 2012. It was time for me to leave. I had served my time and (had) medical problems. The last part of my career was tough because our daughter, Danielle, was getting older and it’s hard being a single mom, even if it’s just for the weekend. When I spoke at the ceremony, I introduced Mary as my partner and Danielle as our daughter and thanked them for their support.

MARRIED: She didn’t want to do it because she was sick of the army. I said, “We have to do this. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell didn’t stop people from asking questions. They are suing you for the wrong reasons. If Vonda were to be deployed and something happened to her, I wouldn’t get the call. The military can say, “Well, you’re nothing. When we were younger and just us, I don’t think we thought about it that much. But when a child enters the scene, it changes everything. We didn’t want to put Danielle in that position.

It was nice to be able to go to her retirement and for her to be able to recognize her family there, despite their discomfort. They will have to get comfortable. Vonda won’t be the last. The soldiers who worked for her came over to shake my hand and talked to me and Danielle. You could tell they just weren’t fazed by anything. But of course they are younger. They are more open to things. It’s totally changed now. It’s a whole different army, a whole different mission.