Gay vet discharged in NY signs up for Army

October 19, 2010 8:29:42 PM PDT
A gay Iraq War veteran discharged from the New York Army National Guard has begun the process for enlisting in the U.S. Army following the suspension of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Coming out as a gay Iraq war veteran, Dan Choi is now able to go back into the military.

This time around, he thought he would enlist as a Marine.

"It's almost like a homecoming," Choi said.

Knocking on a rare door of opportunity, the outspoken critic of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which has been struck down in the courts, was able to approach the recruiters in Times Square, after the Defense Department said it will begin accepting openly gay recruits.

"Patriotic Americans, regardless of their orientation are eligible to come on back to sign up and serve their country, openly, honestly," Choi said.

A West Point graduate, then Lt. Choi began serving his 11 years in the army.

He was deployed to Iraq and he is fluent in Arabic.

But, after announcing that he was gay, he was discharged in July.

Now, as he begins the re-enlistment process, the Justice Department is appealing the latest court ruling.

Some gay rights groups are warning, "Service members must not come out and recruits should use caution if choosing to sign up."

"For those people who want to tell our service members to be cautious or to be nervous, I reject that outright," Choi said.

After learning though, that his age does not qualify him for the Marines, Dan Choi will continue the enlistment process for the Army.

"That he actually comes back in as an E4 Specialist. The people he serves with would have so much respect for him that he wouldn't have a moment of trouble," said Denny Meyer, of the American Veterans for Equal Rights.

"Being in there was absolutely exciting, absolutely vindicating," Choi said.