Brett Jones, who received an honorable discharge in 2003, is set to address the second annual gala for the American Military Partner Association on May 9 at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. The event is expected to draw up to 500 military couples.
Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, called Jones “an American hero” because his service “inspires us in our work to advance fairness and equality for our nation’s LGBT service members, veterans, and their families.”
“His story is no doubt a tremendous help to many young LGBT service members who may be struggling with who they are, and it is a true testament to the strength that diversity brings to our nation’s Armed Forces,” Broadway-Mack said. “We are thrilled that he will be speaking at our event honoring our nation’s modern military families.”
According to his bio, Jones served for almost a decade in the Navy, receiving numerous awards and commendations, and during that time became a Navy SEAL. His service includes two six-month deployments with SEAL Team 8 and becoming a plank owner of SEAL Team 10.
But during his time in the Navy Jones was forced out of the closet, becoming the first openly gay Navy SEAL on active duty. The Navy investigated him under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but the charges against him were dropped, enabling him to complete to remainder of his enlistment to receive an honorable discharge in 2003. Afterwards, he continued service as a security contractor.
In a posting on the veteran news service website known as the Special Operations Forces Report, Jones talks about his experience being gay in the Navy under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“It can be very difficult to accept who you are, especially in an environment that has a history of treating LBGT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) people negatively,” Jones writes. “At the time, the thought of my teammates discovering my secret was terrifying. Eventually, I was forced out of the closet to my SEAL team, and I discovered that it was not as bad as I had made it in my mind. Sure, there were guys who would whisper and talk behind my back, but overall my SEAL brothers supported me.”
According to the American Military Partner Association, Jones now lives in northern Alabama with his spouse, former police sergeant Jason White, and their son.