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Valley Public Radio Staff
Tue January 8, 2013
Gays Separated From Military Since Late '04 To Get Full Discharge Pay
Gays who were forced to leave the U.S. military before 2011's repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy were often given honorable discharges — but were only granted about half of the discharge pay that otherwise would have been due to them.
After the settlement Monday of a class action lawsuit brought in New Mexico, about 181 such men and women will be getting the money that was withheld.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which took the case to court, "the total amount of separation pay withheld from those veterans is approximately $2.4 million."
"Under the terms of the agreement, service members covered by the lawsuit will be contacted by the government and notified that they are eligible for payments. The settlement covers service members who were discharged only on or after Nov. 10, 2004, because that is as far back as the settlement could extend under the statute of limitations, the A.C.L.U. said."
The lead plaintiff in the case was Richard Collins, a former Air Force staff sergeant. In a statement released by the ACLU, Collins says the settlement "means so much to those of us who dedicated ourselves to the military, only to be forced out against our will for being who we are. We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans."