On Wednesday, January 5th, Bleu Copas, an Army-Arabic language linguist, spoke at the Josef Korbel School about his experience with the recently repealed policy forbidding openly gay U.S. citizens to serve in the United States armed forces.
Speaking eloquently, and at times emotionally, Copas outlined his experience being discharged under DADT. After joining the U.S. Army immediately after the terrorist attacks in September of 2001, Copas was assigned to learn Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA where he said he was happier than at any other point in his life. Raised in the mountains of northwest Tennessee, in a conservative Christian family, Copas mentioned how living in CA enabled him to fully accept himself as a gay man.
Unfortunately Copas was anonymously reported to the Army as having violated the policy prohibiting openly gay Americans from serving in the armed forces. He described the process of being investigated and then expelled from the armed forces as "traumatic." Given three days to leave the Army and having his reintegration allowance cut by half, Copas felt cast adrift by something he had dedicated his life to, and at which he excelled.
Subsequently Copas dedicated himself to working for the repeal of DADT, which occurred in a special Congressional Session in December 2010. Copas mentioned that he "felt more American" after the repeal of the policy and that he could walk with his soldiers squared, confident that his fellow gay Americans will never again have to experience the trauma and injustice that he went through because of this anachronistic law.
--Shane Hensinger, MA candidate in International Security
Josef Korbel School of International Studies