WASHINGTON – The Army has discharged a decorated medic who was deployed to Iraq despite acknowledging he was gay.
Darren Manzella, 30, said he revealed his sexual orientation to his military supervisor in August 2006, and was redeployed to Iraq anyway. He has since spoken out publicly several times about being a gay service member.
Manzella was discharged this month for "homosexual admission." His commander's discharge recommendation included a transcript of an interview he gave to television show "60 Minutes" in December 2007, in which Manzella said he is gay.
He did the same in a number of other interviews and even at a Washington news conference. The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibits active-duty service members from openly acknowledging they are gay or lesbian.
The discharge was effective June 10, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a news release. Manzella was traveling and not immediately available for comment.
The Army press office declined comment by phone Friday, but requested an e-mail query, which was submitted and awaiting response.
Manzella first told a military supervisor about his sexual orientation in August 2006 while he was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and working in division headquarters. Three weeks after Manzella made the revelation, his battalion commander told him an investigation had been closed without finding "proof of homosexuality."
A month later, Manzella was redeployed to Iraq. Manzella and his supporters have said his case demonstrates how the military has been arbitrarily enforcing its "don't ask, don't tell" policy during the war.
Manzella enlisted in the Army in 2002. In Iraq, he provided medical care to other soldiers and accompanied his unit on patrols. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge.
Manzella's last assignment was to Fort Hood with the 1st Cavalry Division.