ABC News' Luis Martinez reports:
Lt. Dan Choi has been discharged from the Army National Guard. The Iraq war veteran became one of the most outspoken critics of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on homosexuals in the military after outing himself as a gay soldier on national television.
Choi told ABC News that his battalion commander called him Thursday morning to notify him of his honorable discharge under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
In a statement he said, "After 11 years since beginning my journey at West Point and after 17 months of serving openly as an infantry officer this is both an infuriating and painful announcement."
Choi is fluent in Arabic and served a tour as an infantry platoon leader in Iraq.
The Army initiated proceedings to discharge Choi under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy after a March, 2009 appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” where he stated he was gay.
Since outing himself, he has become a vocal opponent of the law that bars the service of openly gay members of the military. He has been arrested twice this year for chaining himself to the White House fence to protest the law. Just Wednesday, federal prosecutors dropped the charges pending against Choi for those arrests.
Choi said he will continue to speak out against the law whose repeal is being considered by Congress. In May, the House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation to repeal the law, the full Senate has yet to vote on the measure.
“My service continues,” he said in his statement. “Remaining silent when our family and community members are fired or punished for who they truly are would be an unequivocal moral dereliction that tarnishes the honor of the uniform and insults the meaning of America."
“I don’t consider myself a victim,” he told ABC News.
“As sad as I am, I’m not a victim. My unit is a victim,” he said, arguing that Army units would be missing out not only on his skills as an Arabic interpreter, but the skills of other talented members of the military who are discharged under the policy.
The timing of Choi’s discharge was in dispute as spokesmen for the New York National Guard told ABC News that Choi was discharged at the end of June but that Choi had not returned various messages left on his cell phone since then to inform him of the discharge. They added that a registered letter informing him of the decision was received at his father’s home in California in early July.
Choi said he has not spoken with his father since October.
Choi told ABC News he was shocked to first hear from journalists earlier this week that he had been discharged, because he had not yet been officially notified. He said that official notification took place this morning when his battalion commander reached him by phone.