COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A Columbus veteran who was dishonorably discharged from the Army in the 1950s for being gay died this week, just months after his discharge status was upgraded to “honorable.”
Donald Hallman, 83, was among an estimated 100,000 veterans who were discharged from military service for being homosexual.
After the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) in 2010, Hallman worked to have his discharge status corrected and his military benefits reinstated.
“At age 82, Mr. Hallman courageously undertook the upgrade process to have his discharge status corrected and his honor restored, and I’m proud we were able to correct this injustice,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in a statement.
Lori Gum, program coordinator at Stonewall Columbus, called Hallman a “hero.”
“With our program, our discharge review program, [Hallman was] really the first vet to come out and be public about it and urge others to attempt to get their honor back, essentially,” Gum said.
Gum said Stonewall is currently working with about 14 veterans across the country to go through the long process of upgrading their discharge. She said one veteran from Connecticut is 93 years old and was discharged dishonorably in 1948 from the Air Force in Texas.
“[Hallman’s] loss is felt very deeply in our LGBT and certainly our veterans community and all of Columbus,” Gum said. “He was really a role model for so many of our vets who, up to this point, might have been very hesitant to seek their discharge upgrades.”
Gum acknowledged that finding records from long ago can be a difficult process. However, she said that progress has been made with new policies in the military, including the repeal of DADT and allowing gay servicemembers to serve openly. She noted that starting July 1, transgender individuals can also serve openly.
“Thankfully, the progress has been made so we don’t have to continue to go back and get the discharge upgrades but there are so many left behind,” Gum said.
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