Marine Staff Sgt. To Speak on Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

September 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Spartanburg, S.C. — At the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Eric Alva stepped on a land mine and damaged his leg so badly doctors had to amputate it. Hailed as an American hero, the first American wounded in the Iraq War was visited by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush and was awarded the first Purple Heart of the war.

After 13 years of military service, Alva retired as a staff sergeant and went back to college to finish his degree. While at school, he decided to come out as gay, to be true to himself and in order to help others. He is now a gay rights activist and spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, where he speaks out against the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Alva will lecture on the University of South Carolina Upstate campus about his efforts to repeal the policy on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. in the Campus Life Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

From learning to walk with a prosthetic, to overcoming the difficulties he encountered after leaving military life, Alva brings a powerful message of hope and confidence for all those who have felt the pains of discrimination and hate. Alva will discuss his quest to have the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy repealed and the difficulties the policy causes the military’s gay and lesbian community. He uses his own experiences dealing with the policy to urge audiences to support his goal and to help create equality and support for the GLBT community members who serve our country.

For further information on this guest speaker, please contact Stacey Mills, assistant director of Student Life, at (864) 503-5196 or