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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" survey a must to let Airmen's viewpoints be known

WASHINGTON -- "Your opinion matters" is the view of Air Force officials on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" survey released July 7 to more than 98,000 randomly selected active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members.

Selected Airmen have received an e-mail with the survey from Westat, a third-party contractor, on behalf of the Department of Defense. Westat is a professional, independent pollster collecting and analyzing the data.

The confidential survey is not a referendum on whether or not to repeal the law, said Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, the deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel.

"Rather, it's designed to assist leadership in assessing the impacts, if any, that the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" might have on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention," he said.

Airmen who receive the survey are encouraged to complete it because their inputs are critical for enabling DOD officials, and ultimately Air Force officials, to effectively implement policy changes, should Congress decide to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Officials hope to have most of the responses back within 45 days of receipt.

The survey, consisting of 103 questions, should take no more than 30 minutes to complete, and personally identifiable information will not be linked or attached to an individual's answers. The survey does not ask questions about sexual orientation.

Some Airmen who receive the survey link by e-mail may mistakenly view it as "spam" since it originates from an e-mail address with a ".org" extension instead of a ".mil" or ".gov" extension.

"We want to assure Airmen who are randomly selected to complete the survey, that it's a legitimate request, and shouldn't be deleted," General Newton said. Reminder notices with instructions on accessing the survey will be periodically sent throughout the survey period.

Airmen who do not receive the survey can still share their thoughts concerning potential repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" through the online inbox at, an Internet site accessible to common access card holders through or the Air Force Portal.

The online inbox allows servicemembers and their families to submit issues anonymously to the intra-department, inter-service working group, led by Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer.

If Airmen wish to engage in more frank and candid discussions regarding their personal experiences in the military and how they might be affected by repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a confidential communication mechanism has been developed to facilitate confidential online dialogue with trained moderators from Westat. This mechanism can be accessed in two ways: through a link at the end of the survey or at the end of the online inbox submission.

In total, almost 400,000 servicemembers have been asked to complete the survey. Their responses, along with feedback from the online inbox and confidential communication mechanism, will give the working group a baseline of information that best represents the military's 2.2 million servicemembers and their families.

The DOD working group will provide a report to the secretary of Defense no later than Dec. 1 addressing issues, impacts and an implementation plan associated with a repeal of the law, should it occur.