Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Gossip

Our unit made the front page of today's Lancaster Intelligencer/New Era in a story about a chaplain who was supposed to deploy with us and who was accused of violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

For me, finding out Chaplain (Captain) Aris Fokas was deploying with us was great news. He was the assistant college chaplain at Franklin and Marshall College (where my wife teaches) in the 1990s. So I already knew him and knew he was a really good guy. We saw each other at the battalion Christmas party at the end of 2007 and I could not say which one of us was more surprised to see the other in uniform. Both of us were in the Army because of 9-11. Aris had deployed in 2005 in the bad days of the war with an infantry brigade. He ministered to wounded and dying soldiers under bad circumstances. He was the kind of chaplain I wanted to have if things got bad.

But Aris did not deploy with us. I did not know why until I read the article this morning. Whatever the facts of the accusation, the article makes clear that taking him off the deployment roster and now forcing him to resign is all based on one overheard phone call by one guy. Whatever is good or bad about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, I did not know that a single accusation with no corroboration was enough to end someone's career.

Unless you are a completely sinless and virtuous person yourself, think how badly that would work out for you if the standard for prosecution was one uncorroborated witness.

Faith in the Military: Chaplains During the Cold War and the Current Wars

Army Chaplain with Armor Unit In the Cold War Army of the 1970s, the Protestant Chaplains were very different men...