April 20: Changes to the Military

–submitted by Rich Leffler

Col. Sheri Swokowski (right) pictured here with Club President Teresa Holmes

Our speaker, retired Army Colonel Sheri Swokowski, served for 35 years. She is the highest ranked retired Trans officer. She discussed the military’s dual nature concerning minorities, the “DOD Dichotomy.” Until 1948, the military segregated Blacks. President Truman ordered the end of this discrimination and ordered equal pay for women. The military has since become a leader in the integration of minorities. She herself was discharged from the Army for transitioning in 2007. But she was eventually rehired by the Pentagon as an analyst and got her military record corrected. In 1993 the exclusion of gays was somewhat ended under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Similarly, discrimination against women and Trans personnel was ended under President Obama and again in 2021 after a hiatus under President Trump, but still not by statute and so, subject to reinstatement. Today, over 2,000 Transgender people serve, 86% of them either senior officers or enlisted personnel. Col. Swokowski then discussed LGBTQ issues in the larger society. Ultimately, the solution is for all people to be treated with respect and courtesy. Simple, but not achieved so far. Except perhaps in the military.

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