Last month I emailed Congresswoman Fallin about her vote on House Resolution 5136, The National Defense Authorization Act. Basically I wanted to know why she voted against the bill because of the provisions to eliminate the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law concerning the military. Click here to read my email to the Congresswoman. Here is the response I received:
"Dear Mr. (Omitted):
Thank you for contacting me about H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. Understanding your ideas and concerns is important to me, as it helps me to better represent you and the Fifth District of Oklahoma.
H.R.5136 authorizes approximately $567 billion for the Department of Defense in Fiscal Year 2011 and provides $159 billion in funding for current overseas operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, this bill provides essential combat protections to fully support the additional 30,000 troops scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan this summer, protects TRICARE from premium increases and from being affected by the health care takeover bill recently signed into law. It also provides critical benefits for our service members and their families, including a pay raise for our military personnel, whose salaries have consistently lagged behind the private sector.
We know the demand for quality mental health services for our uniformed men and women and their families is on the rise, which is why I offered several amendments to the FY11 National Defense Authorization Act. These amendments, which will improve testing methods for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and tinnitus (ringing of the ears), will provide soldiers with faster treatment and relief from combat-related injuries, as well as improve the lives of those who have served our nation and minimize long-term health care costs for those veterans and our VA healthcare system.
While I am a strong supporter of our military and providing them with the resources they need, I had reservations concerning a provision which would overturn the military's longstanding 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy without first assessing its effects on military readiness. Therefore, I voted against final passage of H.R. 5136 since overturning this policy could ultimately jeopardize the well-being of America's armed forces.
This is an extremely controversial issue that deserves and requires careful attention and consideration. That's why an exhaustive study is currently underway to find out how any change in policy would impact unit cohesion, morale and readiness. I share the sentiment of many top military officials that we should wait until this study, which includes a survey of nearly 400,000 service members and their families, is completed until we consider any changes to the current policy.
While this bill contained important elements that are critical for the defense of our nation, as well as the care of our troops and their families, I believe our men and women in uniform and their families should have the opportunity to express their opinions on an issue that directly affects their lives.
To defend and protect America, we need the best-trained, best-equipped military in the world. For the brave men and women who have served our nation, this bill also enhances the benefits and services available to them and their families. I am forever grateful to those who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe. As recent failed attacks on our homeland remind us, we must remain vigilant, proactive and forward thinking when it comes to defending our freedom.
Thank you again for taking the time to share your ideas and concerns. As the 111th Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and views with me. However, due to increased security measures, mail delivery may be delayed for up to two weeks. Accordingly, I encourage you to visit my website at www.fallin.house.gov to contact me via email as well as find useful information about Oklahoma's Fifth Congressional District."
My goodness! I'm not sure I needed all that information to know why she opposes the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I must disagree with the Congresswoman when she says we need an "exhaustive study" of the repeal. Haven't we already had Congressional hearings on the matter? Haven't we lived with this terrible policy for 18 years? That should be plenty of time for the military to determine it's got to go.
So I really didn't have much more to add to this story, I just wanted to post the Congresswoman's reply for those who were curious. I do appreciate her response. I've emailed a few politicians recently and she's the only one to reply.