US military student may have to pay back $80,000 scholarship money for coming out
A student given $80,000 worth of military scholarship money may have to pay it all back because she came out as a lesbian.
Sara Isaacson, a final year Reserve Officers’ Training Corps student at UNC-Chapel Hill, said she had not realised she was gay when she received the money.
Th 21-year-old said she began to realise her sexual orientation in November but decided she could not comply with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the law which bans gay US soldiers from being honest about being gay.
Two days before President Barack Obama announced in his state of the union address he would repeal the policy, Ms Isaacson went to her commander with a letter to tell him she was a lesbian
She told Campus Progress: “What it came down to for me is that I felt I needed to come out to my commander because of integrity.
“Integrity is one of the seven Army values and is something that they train us to live by every day, every second, whether someone’s watching or not.
“Without realising it, the policy really asks people to lie, to lie about who they are, to tell small lies about what they did or didn’t do. It’s something that I wasn’t willing to do because if I don’t have my values to fall back on, I have nothing.”
Ms Isaacson says that when she handed the letter to Lt Col Monte Yoder, he told hershe would be dropped from the ROTC programme and he would recommend she be asked to repay the money.
She said: “I really don’t know how I’m going to make it happen. I don’t have $80,000 in my back pocket to just give to the Army.”
Lt Col Monte Yoder, the head of North Carolina’s ROTC programme, has not confirmed whether she will have to repay the money and said a two-star general would make the decision.
Instead, he told the Journal-Sentinel that the Army is losing a “great young American”.
He said because she isn’t technically in the military, he was able to give Ms Isaacson a chance to withdraw her letter.
“She could have served if she wanted to,” he said, but added that he felt her decision meant “she didn’t want to be part of the ROTC anymore.”
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