Military service members have been increasingly exposed to a “hyper-politicized and sexualized work environment,” according to a former lieutenant colonel, who says the resulting divisiveness is weakening the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Pentagon’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies have drawn increased and intense scrutiny in recent years, especially from conservatives, who dubb these moves as part of the “woke” agenda.
Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt, deputy chief of space operations, said that “anti-LGBTQ+ laws” introduced by state legislatures are affecting hiring decisions. At a recent Pentagon pride event, she said, “Transformational cultural change requires leadership from the top, and we do not have time to wait. Since January of this year, more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been introduced at the state level.”
“That number is rising and demonstrates a trend that could be dangerous for service members, their families, and the readiness of the force as a whole,” she added.
The Epoch Times spoke to former Space Force officer, Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, who in 2021 was removed from his command for expressing opposition to Marxist-rooted critical race theory (CRT). According to him, there is no place for this kind of advocacy from Burt in the U.S. military.
“Americans should know that when someone signs up to wear the uniform of their country, they’re trained early on to leave political baggage at the door and to be rather apolitical while acting in an official capacity.”
Service members often avoid discussing political topics, because as Lohmeier pointed out, “there is something that supersedes those topics for men and women in uniform—and that’s a particular mission in support of national security.”
“One can make arguments that the military became more political during the Clinton, or during the Obama administration,” he said. “But something radically, fundamentally shifted under the current administration with Lloyd Austin in the seat as secretary of defense.”
Lohmeier said, “At the forefront of the cultural dialogue in the military is what has been driven by policy.” Under then-President Donald Trump, in September 2020, federal agencies were banned from conducting diversity and inclusion training in an effort to combat race and sex stereotyping. Such training was referred to in the executive order as “divisive, anti-American propaganda” funded by taxpayers.
When President Joe Biden came into office in January 2021, he rescinded Trump’s order and issued several executive orders promoting DEI in the federal government.
“While the military has always been, by and large, a reflection of broader American society,” Lohmeier said, “there is something very different going on right now in this current administration.”
“Left-wing activists have essentially been given a bully pulpit,” and according to Lohmeier, “it is politically agitating.” Whether it’s the push for CRT, DEI, the LGBT agenda, or trans activism, he said it is “divisive in nature because not everyone aligns with or agrees with those agendas, and instead view them as a distraction from what our military’s priorities ought to be.”
But equally concerning to him is that “these agendas strike at the values of the military and its role in defending the Constitution.” As most service members attempt to remain apolitical, Lohmeier said, “they are finding themselves in a hyper-politicized and sexualized work environment at the moment.” And if they oppose the environment, “they are labeled as politically partisan and simply ‘part of the problem’ and are ostracized for it.”
An active-duty Air Force officer reached out to Lohmeier in May, sharing an advertisement for an upcoming “family-friendly” drag show event to kick off Pride Month. The event was scheduled for June 1 at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. “The drag show was to be hosted on base at the officer’s club and was sponsored by and funded by the base—which means your taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Lohmeier’s source said his family was concerned about the event and they were not alone. “There were other families on base concerned about the event. Even though attendance at the event wasn’t compulsory, flyers were being posted around base and parents were distressed about their children being subjected to the content of those flyers,”Lohmeier said.
Thus, an effort to stop the event began. “I sent information about the event with the promotional flyer to members of Congress, [and] I tweeted about it,” he said. “A few members of Congress, in particular, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) took swift action.”
Gaetz sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, “demanding answers as to why these things are still taking place on DOD installations, because [on March 29], the Secretary of Defense in a hearing before Congress said that the Defense Department is not using taxpayer dollars to fund drag shows.” But to the contrary, Gaetz provided evidence of DOD-affiliated drag queen events.
For Lohmeier, the secretary was “either ignorant or being disingenuous,” but he is thankful a policy memorandum was issued in early June to end drag shows at Department of Defense installations around the world.
On June 21, House Armed Services Committee Republicans adopted provisions in the annual defense spending bill to eliminate the chief diversity officer at the Pentagon, end funding for DEI programs, as well as other measures targeting “woke” policies.
Lohmeier said there are lessons to be learned through this example of opposition to drag queen events at Pentagon facilities.
“While there are thousands concerned about drag queen shows and story hours, it only took one person to send a request for help and it made all the difference,” he said. “Men and women in uniform need to learn that it’s not off limits to speak up and voice your concern, because you could make changes in policy when you do so.”
There are still thousands of service members who love their country, Lohmeier said. “They take pride in the country and the greatness of the American ideal, and they are willing to fight for and defend that ideal,” he said.
“The best men and women in uniform defend the Constitution for every American, but they need not bow to the political agenda of a select few.” And as various left-wing movements grow, he said, “We need decent people with traditional American values serving in the police force, in the schools, and in the military to shield us from illegal, unethical, or immoral policies that often stem from political and sexual activism run amok.”
“The LBTGQ+ agenda is every bit as divisive for our military as the Marxist-rooted CRT,” Lohmeier said. “It’s every bit as divisive as the diversity and inclusion training that need to be eliminated.”
“If we are going to be strong, if we are going to be ready, if we are going to be lethal,” Lohmeier said, “it will be because of unity.” For him, “the strength of the military is in its unity, not in its diversity.”
The Department of the Air Force and Department of Defense did not return requests for comment from The Epoch Times.