Brief #51—Health

A federal judge put a stop to the recent attacks on military members, referred to as  the “Deploy or Get Out” ;policy. This policy , sponsored by the former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, effectively mandated that any military personnel who were not deployable worldwide be cut. This policy affects personnel deemed non-deployable due to medical reasons, directly affected two HIV positive airmen, who recently sued the Department of Defense. In this case, U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of Alexandria, Virginia, ordered that the US Air Force stop discharging service members who are HIV positive. The Judge found the policy to be “irrational” and “outdated”, and noted that because of the advances in treatment and medicine, the disease “does not impose unreasonable burdens on the military when compared with similar conditions” nor does HIV “seriously jeopardize the health or safety of the service members or his companions in service. “These justifications were central in the judge’s ruling that the military cannot claim HIV status to be an exclusionary factor in ability to serve.

According to the “Deploy or Get Out” policy. the HIV status of these airmen meant that they could not be deployed around the world and therefore must be discharged from military service, Not only is this a direct attack on those with medical conditions that do not impair their ability to serve but this also reduces the readiness of the Airforce and other military branches by reducing their enlistment numbers. This policy additionally affects those most effected by HIV, gay males, continuing the administration’s attack on the LGBTQ community, like the transgender ban.

The original policy, according to Mattis, was put in place to ensure fairness in deployment rates. Specific articles within this policy state that military members who have been non-deployable for the past twelve months or more will be separated from the military, with the expectation of having only deployable personnel and reducing individuals from avoiding deployments. However, service members in the Air Force claim they are being discharged despite the recommendations and influence of their doctors and commanding officers who claim they are fit to serve and are being removed due to their HIV status. While this policy looks to “trim the fat”, it simply reduces the number of available military personnel by arbitrarily choosing individuals to remove from service.

By focusing on the nonexistent impact that HIV has on military abilities and acknowledging that the military cannot make the decision to remove individuals according to outdated biases, the court ruling protects the liberties of U.S. military personnel globally.

  • Resistance Resources:
  • Outserve SLDN : Organization providing legal defense for LGBTQ service members.
  • Human Rights Campaign : LGBT civil rights advocacy group who works toward equal rights.
  • Lambda Legal : A  nonprofit, national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Contact: This Brief was authored by Taylor J Smith Contact: 

Learn More:


Photo by rawpixel

Subscribe Below to Our News Service

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This