LGBTQ military veterans finally seeing the benefits of honorable discharge originally denied them

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12/19/2023

On the very same day the Pentagon announced in September it was taking steps to help LGBTQ veterans, Marine Corps vet Donnie Ray Allen was taking a major step of his own: registering for his first-ever college course. At 47 years old, Allen is pursuing his bachelor’s degree, a dream he gave up decades ago when he was discharged from the military, denied an honorable discharge, and thus deprived of the crucial GI bill he needed to pay for college. He’s among thousands of veterans who were kicked out of the Armed Forces because of their sexual orientation before the military overturned its policy banning gay and lesbian troops from serving openly, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” When CBS News first spoke with Allen a year ago, he was still carrying what’s known as an other than honorable discharge and still ineligible to access the full spectrum of benefits afforded to honorably discharged vets including healthcare, tuition assistance, VA loans and even some federal jobs. With the help of a lawyer, Allen was granted his honorable discharge earlier this year and this month finished his first semester of college using his GI bill. The results, he told CBS News’ Jim Axelrod, have been life-changing.

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