Shortly after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the DoD announced that certain benefit programs are open to servicemember designated beneficiaries, “regardless of sexual orientation.” These benefit programs include Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI), Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP), GI Bill (Survivors & Dependents Education Assistance (DEA)), military death gratuity, designated caregiver and the Thrift Savings Plan, to name a few.
According to Tom Philpott’s Military Update, groups representing gay and lesbian servicemembers are pressing the DoD to include housing, health care, full survivor benefits, identification cards, and access to base stores as well as other morale, welfare and recreation programs.
Philpott reports that officials are continuing to review programs with an eye toward revising eligibility for additional benefits “if legally permitted.” However, the DoD is currently bound by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies benefits for same-sex couples.
It is important to keep in mind that these benefit issues may impact as many as 66,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers – based on estimates made by the Miller Institute Social Research Center.
Read the full article — Amid Battles to Protect Benefits, Gays Seek Equality.