News 12 at 11 o'clock, May 28, 2010
FORT GORDON,Ga. ---The "don't ask don't tell" policy is just one of the big issues the military is battling this Memorial Day. The long fight in Afghanistan and Veterans benefits are also being debated. Often, it's the issues that directly affect service-members the most that the men and women in uniform are not allowed to talk about them openly. News 12 talked to some family members and friends of service members who say it is up to other Americans to speak for them.
The war in Afghanistan is on the minds of many people who live, work and shop near Fort Gordon. Rhonda Douglas owns RJ's Southside Grill inside of Bob's One Stop on Peach Orchard Road. She says it's hard to see loved ones leave and sometimes never return.
"We've both had friends who have gone over there and they have not made it back," said Douglas. "It just needs to come to a stop and we need to end it someway."
Tony Kelly has a niece that's in the U.S. Army. He won't comment on the war, but says he does believe some service members are singled out for the wrong reasons -- like the "Don't ask don't tell policy."
"If you are capable of doing your job, you're capable of doing your job," said Kelly. "That [sexual orientation] doesn't even have a bearing on it at all."
Lara Mobley says she feels the same way.
"If people want to join the military it shouldn't matter what their sexuality is," said Mobley. "It's nobody's' business unless they want to share it."
Mobley and her husband Brent are also against removing people from the military simply because they may be gay.
"If they want to serve America, I mean I think anyone should be able to do so," said Brent.
"If you are willing to give your life and fight for your country to help others out, then you deserve to be there," said Douglas.
One thing all service members share is healthcare and veteran services. Each year, veteran programs face cuts because of funding.
Douglas and her fiance both give out free meals to soldiers from their restaurant because they believe that soldiers give so much and ask for so little and are shortchanged in so many ways.
"If you are willing to fight for your country, no matter what you are, what color you are, men women whatever you deserve more," said Douglas. "We could always do more because they need us as much as we need them."
Top senior military leaders do voice the concerns of service members when it comes to policies. There are also support groups and professional associations out there too that work for the service members. But speaking in uniform and expressing an opinion is usually not advised for the protection of the service member.