It looks as though the Trump Administration is preparing to ban HIV positive people from enlisting in the military while also working to discharge those who are already serving in the Armed Forces.
This is not just a hearsay rumor floating around town but actually, a policy intended to be enacted this year in October 2018 according to an article published by Queety.com.
The Department of Defense’s new “Deploy or Get Out!” policy, which goes into effect October 1, orders the Pentagon to deny people living with HIV from enlisting in the Armed Forces. It also deems current soldiers living with HIV “non-deployable”, then orders the Pentagon to discharge anyone who is unable to be deployed outside of the country for longer than 12 consecutive months.
Fortunately, there are measures actively occurring right now in the hopes to legally prevent this insensitive and egregious policy from going any further.
Now, two separate lawsuits, Harrison v. Mattis and Doe v. Mattis, are challenging the new policy, which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says is to promote “readiness” within the Armed Forces, but which many others see as a thinly-veiled attempt at a government-sponsored HIV purge within the U.S. military.
Queerty.com quoted some of what the defendant in the Harrison v. Mattis case had to say about his feelings on this policy and what the lawsuit means to him.
41-year-old Sgt. Nick Harrison says soldiers living with HIV should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country.
“This case is not just about me,” he says. “This is about every person living with HIV knowing that they can perform any job in the world, including serving in the military.”
Harrison adds, “I look forward to the day that I can serve my country to the full extent of my abilities, based on my performance and unfettered by unfounded fears and misperceptions about HIV.”
In addition to potentially losing his health care and other benefits, Harrison says the new policy blocks soldiers living with HIV from achieving officer status.
As reported by queerty.com, this policy stands to affect more than over a thousand service members right now living with HIV.
It’s estimated the futures of around 1,200 service members are now on the line.
“Soldiers, sailors, fighter pilots and marines are seeing their promising careers cut short, their dreams of service shattered and their health jeopardized due to antiquated notions about HIV and the stigma that results,” says Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal.