Viewpoints

I’m a retired naval officer. Here’s why I support LGBTQ troops

Mark Lisa, chief executive officer of Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton.
Mark Lisa, chief executive officer of Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton.

As a retired naval officer and former U.S. Navy hospital corpsman (enlisted), I want to share some thoughts about the recent “ban” on transgender individuals serving in the military. My opinion is that as long as someone can meet the qualifications to do the job, up to and including deployment, combat, high-stress work, etc., they should be allowed to serve their country.

I currently know and work with transgender Americans, and during my time in the service, I worked with individuals I believed to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning. In those 20 years in the military — on two different Navy ships, three Marine Corps units, overseas and in staff positions — I never once met any LGBTQ person who couldn’t do the job or wasn’t patriotic. When it comes down to it, every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coast Guard member wants to know their colleagues in uniform are capable and part of the team — and so far as I know, being transgender has nothing to do with it.

The United States is a wonderful amalgam of many different cultures, identities, perspectives and talents. Our greatest melting pot within the melting pot has been the U.S. Armed Forces. In this time of growing global tension, why would we prevent anyone from serving his or her country if called to do so? It just doesn’t make sense.

I am also CEO of Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, which has undertaken an effort to ensure it is a welcoming and inclusive hospital for all patients, employees and visitors in our community. We expect to become accredited under the Healthcare Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign very soon. We’re doing this because we want our patients, employees and visitors to continue to feel safe, secure, welcomed, and protected from discrimination. We support all members of the LGBTQ community who proudly serve and defend our country.

Mark P. Lisa, chief executive officer of Twin Cities Community Hospital, lives in Paso Robles.

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