The nation’s top general agreed that drag queen story hours should not occur on American military bases after an exchange Wednesday with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., during a budget hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee.
Gaetz questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on drag queen story hours occurring on U.S. military installations across the country.
Milley said he was “unaware” of such events and doesn’t think they are appropriate on U.S. military bases.
Gaetz asked Austin, himself a retired Army general, how many taxpayer dollars in the Defense Department budget are funding drag queen story hours.
“Drag shows are something the department doesn’t support or fund,” Austin said.
Milley’s comments suggested he would investigate Pentagon funding of such events.
The statements from Milley and Austin came as a poll reveals that 7 out of 10 active-duty service members say they have witnessed politicization in the military.
Over 60% of respondents said they were concerned about growing politicization. Almost 70% said it would influence whether they encourage their children to join the military, according to the survey commissioned by the National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness, formed in October by The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation).
At the hearing, Gaetz gave Austin and Milley general examples of drag queen story hours or shows and other so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion events on military bases.
Among them: Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada hosted its first drag queen show last June at one of its on-base dining and entertainment clubs. Malmstrom Air Force Base held a drag queen story time for children last July. Eglin Air Force Base, which is within Gaetz’s Florida congressional district, hosted a week of LGBT “inclusion events” during Pride Month.
The Florida Republican also questioned Austin about the 8,000 service members who have been discharged for not adhering to the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The military saw a record low in recruitment in 2022.
“You’re overseeing a recruiting nightmare in our military right now, and these are 8,000 patriots,” Gaetz said of those discharged for not getting a vaccination.
Gaetz didn’t respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment after the hearing. The Defense Department declined to comment.
Another Florida Republican, Rep. Michael Waltz, said the U.S. military must “address our recruiting crisis, reinstate meritocracy to our ranks, and refocus our efforts on warfighting.”
“Whether it’s mandating politicized DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] initiatives or focusing on ‘eco
–friendly’ strategies that compromise lethality, our military faces a readiness crisis,” Waltz said in a press release Thursday on the poll results.
In the same release, Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said that as the world becomes more dangerous, the nation’s armed forces need to return to the sole mission of protecting the U.S. from enemies abroad.
“While the Biden administration pursues a politicized ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ experiment, the National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness has focused on recommending actionable steps to solve our government-created military recruitment and readiness crises,” Roberts said.
“Now is the time for patriots to step up and restore our military’s warrior ethos and readiness, not to be distracted by the political agenda of bureaucratic elites,” he said.
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