Filmmaker Johnny Symons will lead a discussion and screening of Ask Not at the APA Division 39 Spring Meeting in Chicago this April. ASK NOT is a groundbreaking and deeply personal PBS filmÂ illuminating the real stories and psychological effects of the military’s controversial ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and includes a comprehensive account of its remarkable history and implementation.
The timing couldnâ€™t be better with the national conversation surrounding the policy ramping up, and everyone from the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Vice President Dick Cheney advocating for the policy’s repeal. As has always been the case, the military has authority to modify how â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€ is applied, even if Congress takes no action to suspend or repeal the policy.
Perhaps the most provocative development, therefore, is the recent announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates announcing substantive enforcement changes including approval of discharges by a one-star flag officer or above, the requirement that third parties give information under oath, and the disallowing of confidential information provided to lawyers, psychotherapists, and clergy to be used in support of discharges. In his remarks, Secretary Gates said he believes the modifications provide “a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved.”