`”We have contributed to this military and this nation as much as anyone else.”
On Wednesday, in the span of a few tweets, President Donald Trump declared that he would ban trans military service.
There has been plenty of coverage and commentary about the tweets and what they actually mean in terms of policy (it turns out not much). But I wanted to talk with a trans soldier, someone who is serving right now and who understands this at the ground level.
Jacob Eleazer is a captain in the Kentucky Army National Guard. He has served for more than 11 years, beginning as an enlisted soldier and later earning his commission as an officer. He is currently a member of the 198th Military Police Battalion, where he serves as a senior human resources officer.
He agreed to be interviewed, but made it clear his remarks are his opinions as a private citizen and that he is not speaking for or on behalf of the United States Army or the Army National Guard.
I asked Eleazer, among other things, to tell me what he would say to the president or to the people making policy if he could sit down with them tomorrow.
“I’d say that we are your soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines,” he told me. “We are not a special interest. We have been serving you and this country for decades. We have contributed to this military and this nation as much as anyone else. We’re here to do our job — so let us.”
You can read our full conversation below.
What was your reaction when you heard the news [of Trump’s proposed ban]?
My initial reaction was that this has got be a hoax. Someone must have hacked the president’s Twitter account or someone must have photoshopped the tweets. When I realized it was serious, I was floored.
There was no indication at all that this was coming. We thought this was settled. We gained a huge victory last year when the ban was dropped. All indications were that we were moving forward on this policy and that things were moving in the right direction. And there seemed to be plenty of support from the Pentagon as well. So this came way out of left field.
I don’t know if you saw this, but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff announcedthat there will be “no modifications” to the current policy until or unless the DOD issues a formal policy. So it appears this is a long way from policy.
Well, I have drill this weekend and I’m showing up. Nobody’s told me not to come to work, so I’ll be there on Saturday!