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Bereaved parents of gay soldier speak out
From News Releases, posted March 31, 2011
2011-04-06

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In a new video, bereaved parents talk about Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, "A Soldier's Soldier"

OutServe Press Release:

WASHINGTON, DC,: As the military prepares to certify and implement repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, OutServe, the underground network of over 2,900 active LGBT military personnel, and Courage Campaign, a 750,000 member progressive organizing network today released a new video from the parents of US Army Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, a gay soldier killed in combat last month in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

In the video, which includes footage of Wilfahrt's remains returning to Dover Air Force Base, his parents describe what drove their son to join the military and how he was viewed by his peers and commanding officers.

View the Full Video: www.couragecampaign.com/andrewwilfahrt or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=220hCk1Omw0&feature=player_embedded

"He [ Andrew ] thought he'd go, so someone else with family and children wouldn't have to go," said Corporal Wilfahrt's father Jeff. "His aptitude tests were off the charts…he was a soldiers' soldier and all of his commanders were struck by him."

"The stories we've heard from people in his unit indicate that he kept some people calm when things got rough," added Corporal Wilfahrt's mother Lori. "People in his unit knew he was gay…and they didn't care."

To date, nearly 6,000 Americans have been killed in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to Corporal Wilfahrt, at least three LGBT soldiers have died in combat since "Don't Ask Don't Tell's" conditional repeal was signed into law on December 22, 2010.

"Corporal Wilfahrt epitomized the courage, dedication and selflessness that gay and straight troops alike have shown in battle since our nation's founding," said Jonathan Hopkins, OutServe spokesperson and gay combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Ultimately Corporal Wilfahrt's story is not about differences or politics, but the values that unite all who wear the proud uniform of our nation—loyalty to each other, love of country, and the willingness to give their lives in its defense."

The Wilfahrt video will be featured on the Courage Campaign's "Testimony" website. Testimony is a one-of-a-kind online tool featuring stories, images, and videos of LGBT families across the country, as well as their friends and allies.

"We are so grateful to the Wilfahrts for their service to our country and for sharing their powerful story," said Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs. "While Andrew's loss leaves a void in his unit and family, we all honor his legacy by ensuring the nation for which Corporal Wilfahrt made the ultimate sacrifice lives up to its highest ideals—to include full equality for LGBT Americans, both inside and outside of the military."

OutServe is an underground network of actively serving members of the United States Armed Services who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The organization is led by an active-duty member who goes by the pseudonym of JD Smith and civilian Co-Director Ty Walrod. For more information, visit www.outserve.org .

Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. Last year, the Courage Campaign mobilized nearly 700,000 petition signatories from all 50 states and around the world advocating DADT Repeal--including more than 12,500 veterans and military families. Through a one-of-a-kind online tool called Testimony: Take A Stand, the Courage Campaign is chronicling the sights, sounds and stories of LGBT families and all who wage a daily struggle against discrimination across America. For more information about Testimony, please visit, http://www.couragecampaign.org/testimony.

Statement by Jonathan Hopkins, OutServe Washington, D.C. Spokesperson, Member of the Board:

When I was an Infantry Company Commander, nothing struck me more deeply than seeing what one Soldier would do for another brother or sister in arms. The sacrifices they would make for each other's lives at the risk of their own serve as a constant reminder of the depth with which they care for one another. Ultimately, this mutual sacrifice is what drives good military organizations—a type of sacrifice that knows no gender, ethnicity, or orientation.

Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt lived for his comrades in arms, and as a result of a roadside bomb on February 27th, 2011, he also died for them. It did not matter to those around him in uniform that he was gay, nor did it matter to his parents. He was a Soldier. But due to a law made years ago and thousands of miles away, he had to choose between a military life and a personal life in a way few others did. His military experience is representative of the tens of thousands of gay, lesbian, or bisexual men and women who have served our country, as well as the scores who have died for it.

Please take a moment to view this video [ AT THE LINK BELOW ] in which Andrew's parents eloquently discuss what this gifted young man contributed

www.youtube.com/watch?v=220hCk1Omw0&utm_source=OutServe&utm_campaign=615aa152af-Corporal_Andrew_Wilfahrt&utm_medium=email

Soon, others like Corporal Wilfahrt will be able to serve without having to segregate the two things that matter most to them—the organization they steadfastly serve from those they deeply love. In an institution that craves standards, the double standard required by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be forever gone — replaced by one common military standard: an expectation placed on everyone to serve honorably, professionally, and capably, demonstrating mutual respect for one another.

I hope you find yourself as thankful that we have such caring and capable people serving our country, as you are that in short order, they will no longer have to sacrifice part of their lives in order to serve. That day is nearly here.

Jonathan Hopkins

OutServe Washington, D.C. Spokesperson

Member of the Board


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