Earlier today, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network called on Pentagon leaders to step up their investigation into the death of Specialist Ciara Durkin, a Massachussets Army National Guard soldier who was found dead in Afghanistan on September 27. Already, there are signs that SLDN's statement, along with similar statements from Senator John Kerry, Senator Edward Kennedy and Congressman William Delahunt, are having an impact. Often, however, service members with information critical to cases like these are reluctant to come forward, out of fear that they, too, may become the target of an investigation due to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
There is, however, a safe, confidential way for those with information to report that without fear of being outed, or having their name released publicly. In fact, all conversations with SLDN attorneys are protected by attorney-client confidentiality. This evening, SLDN issued a call asking for those with information to come forward, so we can learn the truth about Specialist Durkin's death.
SLDN's statement says that, “Servicemembers Legal Defense Network appreciates any steps the Army can take to investigate the facts surrounding Specialist Durkin’s death. We have seen in similar investigations in the past, however, that some service personnel are understandably hesitant to reveal information to military investigators out of fear that they, too, may be investigated because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It is important that military members understand that they can report information confidentially to legal aid organizations, such as SLDN, that may be helpful in bringing facts in the case to light. At the same time, we urge the Army not to use any evidence made available by service members to target them for dismissal because of their sexual orientation when revealing that information be necessary in cooperating with the investigation.”
Anyone with information relevant to the case can contact SLDN - again, confidentially - by calling (202) 328-FAIR, or emailing our legal staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will never reveal the source of information we receive, and will take every step possible to protect service personnel who reach out to us.
For more information about Specialist Durkin's death, visit www.sldn.org.