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[quote]To minimize confusion in this post, I will combine the terms transsexual(ism) and transgender(ism) to just "trans" and "trans-ism." These terms are still relatively new and have not yet been fully defined, especially due to their many similarities.
Various interest groups and political leaders have begun to investigate the policies of denying trans personnel from joining the US Military, the administrative separation of trans personnel upon discovery, and denying coverage for trans procedures or care.
Hagel was also asked whether department policy regarding trans individuals serving in the military should be revisited now that gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly. He called the issue complicated because of its' medical component.
“These issues require medical attention. In austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases [those military posts] don’t always offer that kind of opportunity,” he explained.
“I do think it should continually be reviewed … because the bottom line [is] every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity, if they fit the qualifications and can do it. This is an area we’ve not defined enough,” Hagel said. [/quote] This is a politically sensitive topic in a progressively tolerant society. Additionally, as recent policy changes allowing Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual individuals to continue to serve, it seems the DoD is still discriminating or punishing the last letter of the ever so popular acronym, "LGBT."
Why is the military allowed to deny entry or discharge personnel for these conditions? Titles 10 and 14 of the US Code and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only protect against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Age and medical conditions are not protected. Note that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title 42 of the US Code generally do not apply to uniformed military service members, but they usually extend to most civilian personnel in the DoD. This also means that unless the Supreme Court rules at some later date, the legislature could reinstate some version of DADT, or repeal the repeal of DADT and allow the DoD do selectively enforce it in it's own way. Of course this is definitely not going to happen anytime soon, but the point is that it could legally happen.
One of the key points is that the Air Force and DoD do not consider trans-ism "unfitting" but rather "unsuiting." In short something "unfitting" is a medical disability or disease that prevents military service due to a physical condition (AFI 48-123), while something "unsuiting" is a behavior or disorder that somehow precludes service due to the nature of the condition and the requirements of military service (AFI 36-3208). Some conditions blur this line, and others have specific exemptions, such as PTSD. These categories are considered beyond the member's control and the member will not be "punished" but may require application of "Force Management Programs."
An example of this subtle difference might be highlighted in a presumptive ADHD diagnosis. Let's imagine an Airman sees her PCM with a complaint of difficulty concentrating. After some discussion, the doctor might order some laboratory tests.
[*]If the labs are normal, the doctor may refer the patient to Mental Health and/or the Behavioral Health Optimization Program (BHOP). Despite a year or more of counseling and various medication trials, the member has had minimal improvement. She has continued difficulty performing her duties and little desire to remain in the Air Force. Her Mental Health providers and Commander would likely pursue an Administrative Discharge for an "unsuiting" condition. This would be a UNIT COMMANDER ADMINISTRATIVE action with MEO/EEOC and AF/JA oversight.
[*]If the labs identify an abnormally low TSH levels and other results, the doctor refers the member to an Endocrinologist. The specialist diagnoses her with some variant of hyperthyroidism. After a year of various medication trials and possible procedures, the hyperthyroidism is only minimally controlled and still requires regular evaluation by the Endocrinologist, regardless of whether her ADD-like symptoms have improved or not. Her doctor compiles the medical information from her medical record and begins the Initial Review In Lieu of Medical Evaluation Board (I-RILO MEB) process for an "unfitting" condition. This would be a MEDICAL action with PERSONNEL (AFPC) oversight.
[/list] AFI 36-3208, para. 5.11.9. states that to pursue administrative discharge, "[...] A recommendation for discharge under these provisions must be supported by a report of evaluation by a psychiatrist or PhD-level clinical psychologist who confirms the diagnosis of a disorder listed below, as contained in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). [...]" The specific definition is in para. 188.8.131.52. as "Transsexualism or Gender Identity Disorder of Adolescence or Adulthood, Nontranssexual Type (GIDAANT)."
The most recent edition of the DSM has changed the class of disorders from “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders” to the more accommodating term of "Gender Dysphoria." This move was to emphasize that [url="http://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Practice/DSM/DSM-5/Changes-from-DSM-IV-TR--to-DSM-5.pdf"]"Gender identity disorder [...] is neither a sexual dysfunction nor a paraphilia."[/url] Despite this change, the American Psychiatry Associations' compromising and opinion, the DoD retains ultimate ownership of personnel actions.
But why does the DoD consider trans-ism "unsuiting?" There will likely be numerous and varied answers to this question in the coming months, but here's my belief in the reality. In general, these conditions just aren't conducive to military service and are costly to the Military Health System. These conditions, whether they are presumably resolved prior to entry or not, and whether they will or have undergone surgical procedures or not, will almost certainly require extensive medical support. The specialty services most likely to be heavily utilized might include psychiatry/psychology/behavioral health, endocrinology, and urology/gynecology. The US Military doesn't exist to provide health care no matter how significant or costly a condition may be (though it doesn't always feel that way), but rather to provide independently-medically capable servicemembers to execute the various missions of the DoD. Such frequent evaluation and medical support precludes deployment or assignment to numerous locations, such as Korea, Turkey, or Africa. In summation, the logistics just don't add up.
Certainly there will be many people who would decry trans-ism as some corruption or aberrance, or others who could claim it would demoralize the unit. Whether these reasons have any merit or applicability is secondary. In the 21st century, it appears that religion and culture will be taking a back seat to finances.[/quote][/background][/size][/font][/color]
This past weekend I attended the AOPA Summit in Tampa. I saw the list of forum topics and had eyed a few that I wanted to attend - however, in the end I spent all of my time in the exhibit hall.
The summit was nicely put together and the Tampa Convention Center was a great (upscale) venue to hold this event.
The exhibit hall was gigantic and had the usual booths such as Sportys, Pilot Mall, Garmin, Jepp, ERAU, etc. Additionally, the FAA was well represented - I spoke at length with the folks at the FAA Safety booth (www.faasafety.gov). Here I was shown (in detail) all of the features of their new website with a ton of information, bulletins, self-study topics, and more. I was searching for material/sources of safety information for the Aviation e-Newsletter that I am trying to kick off, and I think I found quite a bit here. I also spoke with Mr. Steve Smith (former AFSOC pilot) at the FAA Sunway Safety Booth (separate from the FAASafety booth) that was dedicated specifically to runway safety, preventing runway incursions, etc.
I saw one particular product from a small vendor that captured my attention - it was the flight bag that is made by Brightline Bags (www.brightlinebags.com) - this is a great product that is just the right size, has plenty of separate compartments / dividers, and seems rugged enough to last. It has a separate compartment that will fit 2x Dave Clarks (or perhaps 1x NVGs). Also, the pubs compartment is perfectly sized to fit sectionals / high or low charts without having to crinkle them or bend them. And the bag's two sections actually zip-apart into two separate bags (if you don't need to carry all the pubs for instance).
In the near future, look for the 1st issue of our Aviation e-Newsletter.
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Took our last test yesterday and passed with flying colors! I know I haven't updated this in a while, but everything's been going very well. I'll finally get to do a job...and on the second try! Graduation is later today and i'll head back up to California.
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Today was graduation. 54 weeks of fun/pain/work/play ending in getting my wings. It was all worth it, I'd do it again if I had to. The graduation ceremony was this morning at 1000. Class 10-05 was sitting in the back in their service dress, just like we were sitting in the back of class 08-05's graduation a year ago. It's weird thinking about all that's happened and things I've done since then, and knowing those guys are all just getting started with it.
We have our graduation dinner tonight, it's a formal deal, us in mess dress and so forth. I guess it's an awards banquet, but whatever. I have to get into the penguin suit one more time!
Anyway, I think this will be my last entry in my blog, I don't see a need to spill the beans on the rest of my life, I'm sure the SERE guys already have enough to hang me with when I go! Thank you to every one who wished me the best and supported me through this process. I first logged on to Baseops.net forums in 2002 when I started the process of getting a commission in the Air Force and becoming a pilot. Now, here I am 7 years later with Air Force pilot wings on my chest, about to head off to my dream plane at my dream base. Overall, it's taken 13 years since I stepped on the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego (almost to the day), and there's not a single thing I would change, from the route I took to get here to the time line itself. I've received nothing but good advice from this place (Baseops), and I really do hope that what I've written will take some of the "stress of the unknown" away from those just starting the process of getting their wings, and return to Baseops some of what it gave to me. Bottom line: work your butt off to get here, it's worth it.
I'll still look at the comments on here, and if anyone reading this has any questions in the future, you can PM me too.
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Recent EntriesST. LOUIS, July 15, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has completed a major communications upgrade on the first of five Saudi E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft as part of a $49.2 million contract.
Installation and checkout of the aircraft were performed at the Boeing Military Flight Center in Seattle. The enhancement, known as Link 16, is a secure, jam-resistant, digital data link that allows military aircraft, ships and ground units to exchange tactical pictures in near real time. Link 16 also supports the exchange of text messages and imagery data and provides additional channels for digital voice.
The Link 16 AWACS upgrade is the first in a series of anticipated technology upgrades to the Saudi AWACS fleet.
"This powerful capability provides the Saudi fleet with a secure data and voice link, allowing direct communication between their AWACS aircraft and forward-positioned fighter aircraft," said Mark Mills, Saudi AWACS program manager for Boeing.
Boeing partner Alsalam Aircraft Co. will upgrade the remaining four aircraft in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with Boeing on-site support. The fleet upgrade is scheduled to be completed in December 2009.
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