SLDN Statement on GAO Report of “Don’t Ask” Costs

Washington, D.C. – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), released a statement today on a new audit reported in this afternoon’s Washington Post <> , which shows the military spent about $193.3 million from 2004-2009 to fired and replace approximately 3,660 service members discharged under DADT. Each discharge cost an average of $52,800. These numbers are based on estimates provided by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and is an update of a report from 2005.
“Today’s GAO report underscores that the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law not only deprives the military of the qualified Americans it needs, but has also been a huge waste of taxpayer dollars on replacing patriots lost under this discriminatory law,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “These numbers remind us why it’s time to move forward on certification so we can begin implementing repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and make a smooth transition to open service.”


Discharge Numbers:
·        3,664 DADT discharges from 2004-2009

·        1,458 held critical occupations

·        57% were Honorable

·        28% were Uncharacterized

·        10% were General

·        3% were Other Than Honorable

·        2% were Unknown or Not Applicable


·         193.3 million ($52,800 per discharge)

·         Excludes the Navy, which was unable to provide data for this time period.


·        White: 70%

·        African American: 18%

·        Multiracial: 2%

·        Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 2%

·        American Indian or Alaskan Native: 3%

·        Asian: 3%

·        Unknown: 3%


·        Officer: 2%

·        Enlisted: 98%


·        66% male

·        34% female


·        Air Force: 15%

·        Army: 48%

·        Marine Corps: 12%

·        Navy: 25%

ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was established in 1993 when “Don’t Ask” originally passed.  In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law.  This year the organization received its 10,000th call for assistance to its legal hotline.


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