Veterans who were discharged dishonorably because of their sexual orientation will now receive full benefits, calling previous polices both homophobic and transphobic.
"The military has come a long way. There are people out there who wanted to serve for one reason or another. That option was taken from them through no fault of their own," said veteran Dustin Best.
The Fayetteville resident enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2001. He completed basic training and was set to be stationed at Fort Bragg until his roommate discovered his journal and turned it in to the company commander. Best is gay.
"They put me out pretty quickly. I loss my G.I. bill, VA benefits and sign on bonus, " Best said.
He was discharged before he could move on to his first duty station. Best joined the military with hopes of paying for college.
"There are lots of things baked into the VA or straight, cisgender people. That's positive, but not overwhelmingly positive. Still lots of work to do," said veteran Maggie Baisley, who identifies as queer.
She wants to see the VA cover IVF treatment for same sex couples.
Meanwhile, Best says if that discharge hadn't happened, he'd still be serving proudly for our country. He believes there are others still hiding in the shadows.
"There is fear and I've seen it first-hand living in a military town. They fear how they'll be looked at by colleagues. There is still that innate thing among men mostly," said Best.