After winning the biggest battle of his Navy career, Timothy R. McVeigh has gone back to work at Pearl Harbor.
Although he won an unprecedented reversal of his Navy dismissal on homosexuality charges, the highly decorated chief petty officer doesn’t know if he can return to the job he loved - managing the day-to-day activities of a nuclear attack submarine.
While allowed back on board, he’s not back at his old post.
“I was removed from my job in charge of a nuclear sub. I had 134 people under my command,” said McVeigh, 36. “From there I was assigned to building office spaces … then they gave me a clerk position.
“I want to continue my career,” he said.
U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin last Monday ordered the Navy to reinstate McVeigh, a 17-year Navy veteran who was dismissed in December on charges he is homosexual and engaged in sodomy. McVeigh has not commented on his sexuality.
Sporkin said the Navy violated the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military and went too far in investigating McVeigh, who was linked to an anonymous online profile page that suggested he had a sexual interest in young men.
Sporkin also said the Navy violated the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act for obtaining confidential information about McVeigh from America Online Inc. without a warrant or court order.
The Navy plans to appeal.
Although back in service, McVeigh is continuing his lawsuit against Defense Secretary William Cohen and Navy Secretary John Dalton. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
“I wonder how many people have been wrongfully kicked out of the Navy and not thought about fighting back because they felt too overwhelmed. They thought I would quietly go home. I’m not going,” he said.
McVeigh claims that since his return to Submarine Squadron Three, he has not been given a job commensurate with his experience as the USS Chicago’s top enlisted officer with a spotless record.
While some sailors support his efforts to make the Navy follow its own rules, McVeigh fears the open hostility he feels from supervisors may at some point make him a target.
The Navy says it has no evidence of a hostile reception.
McVeigh was disciplined after the Navy linked him to an anonymous “profile page” posted on AOL in which a “Tim” from Honolulu expressed a sexual interest in young men and used the handle “BOYSRCH.”
Before AOL shut down his account on Jan. 8, McVeigh said he had several profiles on file with the Internet provider. None of them contained homosexual references.
With less than three years to go until he qualifies for a full military pension and benefits, McVeigh hopes a transfer to another unit will allow him to make a fresh start.
That may not be easy.
“A lot of people don’t want to be associated with a case like this,” said his court-appointed attorney, Lt. Cmdr. Derek Cole. “I can’t imagine with him being that high-profile that any commanding officer would want him.”