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"At the time I enlisted, the emphasis still was more on trying to make women look pretty in uniform than it was in training them to be soldiers." (Video interview, 3:53)

   Brenda A. Vosbein
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Brenda Vosbein
War: Cold War; Persian Gulf War Era, 1990-2001
Branch: Army
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
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When Brenda Vosbein joined the Army in 1970, she was a WAC with the Women’s Army Corps. She overcame her disappointment that women could not serve in combat and became a nurse. In her 29 year career, Brenda experienced--and quickly adapted to--the massive sea change in the military as women’s roles expanded. However, when the military’s "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy regarding gay military service became a legal issue, Brenda volunteered to be one of the plaintiffs. As the only lesbian plaintiff, and the only plaintiff still on active duty, her pseudonym of "Jane Able" was chosen for the title of the suit Able vs. The United States of America.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (42 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (42 min.)
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Organized the kids on the street; read Marines at War; realizing she wouldn't be allowed in combat; finding her interest in health care. (00:51) Only one instance when asked about sexual orientation; could answer in good conscience. (00:49) Fit in well; started out as a WAC; time of transition for women; got bored because the Army didn't know what to do with women. (01:06)
Enjoyed being in command, and being respected and responsible. (01:24) Life as a WAC was women commanding other women; integration changed the command structure; no idea what to do with women at Fort Huachuca; rules against marriage and children meant many career officers were lesbian. (01:48) “Don't Ask Don't Tell” policy; origin of the lawsuit Able vs. the United States of America; how she came to be known as “Jane Able;” won in the lower court, but Appellate Court didn't want to interfere with Congress; case dropped to avoid losing in the Supreme Court. (07:32)
Gays have always served; always been an open secret; policy is illogical and makes soldiers live in fear; she never hid who she was. (02:09) A patriot; would never have hesitated to bear arms; supports the troops. (01:14) Service was highlight of her life; Army a good career choice; importance of serving with honor. (01:06)

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  October 26, 2011
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