USAF Academy Cadets Talk Respect, Dr. Mike Rosebush

The US Air Force Academy made several homosexual cadets available to reporters for a conference call last week and subsequently released a summary article:

Carol, Stephanie and William, three cadets in the Academy’s Spectrum club for LGBQ and allied cadets, spoke to reporters with both local and national newspapers and blogs to talk about their experiences and the support they’ve received from the Academy’s senior leaders…

The three cadets were identified only by their first names, and the group generally spoke neutrally or well of Dr. Rosebush:

“Frankly, I didn’t know he existed until his name showed up in the press,” William said. “My personal opinion is that he’s been here long enough, he’s shown he can work here without pressing his views on other people. If he does his job and does it well, and he’s not trying to influence or treat people differently than anybody else, then personally, I don’t care.”

Capt. Michelle Reinstatler, an English Department instructor and the officer in charge of Spectrum, said she has worked with Rosebush in her capacity as a coach within the Character Coaching program.

“I have never had any negative experience with him at all,” Reinstatler said. “He is very kind and caring, as far as I can tell, and very good at his work.”

Like any institution, the US military can be very intentional in its efforts to rebut negative press. Unfortunately, in answering one criticism it may open itself to others.  While possibly innocent and unintentional, the official USAFA article contains what could be perceived as a barb against fellow Airmen [emphasis added]:

“Being gay in any position, in any walk of life…is hard,” she said. “You want to know why that is?…We are a minority, and people still have views about us that are…from the dark ages.”

There’s room for discussion about whether merely having “views” — as opposed to taking actions — should make things “hard.”  In the end, it is disappointing to see what amounts to an implicit denigration of religious beliefs occur without caveat in an official military article.

With regard to the conflict between religious belief and the open acceptance of homosexuality, the US military has said its official position is not that everyone has to agree — only that they have to demonstrate respect for their fellow Airmen.  In fact, Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh made this point himself at his very recent visit to USAFA.

The Air Force Academy has spent significant effort defending against attacks regarding the presence of Dr. Mike Rosebush on its staff.  As has been noted before, even by USAFA Superintendent LtGen Michelle Johnson, there are “two sides” to this issue.  Not only is the Academy trying to demonstrate its acceptance of cadets regardless of sexuality, but it also recognizes that it accepts cadets regardless of religious views — even views that some may think are “from the dark ages.”