Thirty-five years after being discharged from the U.S. Army with the status “other than honorable,” Lisa Weiszmiller is getting her redemption.
Weiszmiller was arrested along with 62 other gay military personnel, fined a month’s pay, and was told she would face court if she refused to sign her discharge papers. Now, the Army has changed her status to honorable discharge.
According to Weiszmiller, she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of her treatment in military police training in Alabama in 1978 and 1979. She said soldiers were interrogated for hours and forced to do extra work if they were thought gay.
“Back then, the treatment was barbaric,” Weiszmiller said. Drill sergeants “would stop their troops and we would have to come to parade rest and they would berate us. These are queers! These are lesbians! Stay away from these homosexual women. They tried everything they could to try to break us down to what they thought we were.”
Once Weiszmiller finished training, she wasn’t allowed to leave the base.
“They searched our lockers, found some personal letters from friends and decided they were going to kick us out for being gay,” she said. “From what I understand, they ended up kicking 62 people out from that company when it was all said and done. It was a big witch hunt, which is kind of what the Army did back then.”
Weiszmiller said that because of this treatment, she has dealt with psychological problems and Methamphetamine abuse. When threatened with prison, she became reconnected with her military history.
“I asked, ‘What if I’m a veteran?’” she said.
If she was a veteran, Weiszmiller would be allowed to take advantage of a veterans diversion program, allowing her to use any available veterans service. Since her change in discharge status, she plans to ask the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department for help covering her PTSD disability.
“I’m not asking for unreasonable things,” she said. “I’m just asking for the ability to get medical treatment [and disability benefits].”
Between 1983 and 2010, The Oklahoman said 8,446 members were discharged for their sexuality, and over 100,000 have been discharged for being gay since the beginning of World War II.
The “Restore Honor to Service Members Act” has been introduced by Democratic Senators Brian Schatz and Kristen Gillibrand to fix the status of LGBT service members who were originally not given honorable discharges.