Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last few years, you’re likely familiar with the tale of the Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning.
Manning is currently in prison, serving time for leaking classified information, but believe it or not, that’s not what he’s famous for. No, he’s famous because he’s a transgender who’s having his medical expenses related to his condition paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
As if that isn’t outrageous enough, it appears “Chelsea” Manning is about to be released from prison and will remain on active duty in the Army.
According to Fox News, Chelsea Manning will remain on active duty following her release from military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on May 17, the U.S. Army said Sunday.
Manning will be an unpaid soldier and will be eligible for health care and other benefits, USA Today reported. She will remain a private, Army spokesman Dave Foster told the paper.
“Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review,” Foster said.
Manning was granted clemency in the final days of the Obama administration. She thanked former President Obama last Tuesday in her first statement since being granted clemency.
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in the statement. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine.”
Last year, Army officials told her she was eligible for sex reassignment surgery — and the government would pay for it, attorney Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union told reporters.
Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, was convicted in 2013 of leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents and battlefield video to WikiLeaks. She served nearly seven years of her 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth. She was known as Bradley Manning before transitioning in prison.
The question one has to ask at this point is why in the world our military is rewarding bad behavior, like leaking documents, by allowing Manning still to have medical benefits paid for by American citizens?
Is it because of the transgender issue? Is the government — or more accurately, the Army — concerned that it will be accused of bigotry by stripping this individual of their benefits, even though they committed a crime?
If that is indeed the case, doesn’t that mean, essentially, that transgender individuals serving in the military have more rights and protections than the average person? That hardly seems fair, right?
[Note: This article was written by Michael Cantrell]