Grace James | Legal Aid at Work | 18012
After a 60 year battle, Grace James won her honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force this week, at the age of 90.
She enlisted in the Air Force in 1952, and had a fine service record. She was promoted to Airman 2nd Class but when she was stationed at Roslyn Air Force Base, Airman James came under investigation by the Office of Special Investigation.
One night in the winter of 1955 she sat with a friend in her car to eat sandwiches. An officer discovered them and took her into custody and she was interrogated. Investigators told Helen Grace James that if she didn’t sign a statement they put in front of her, they would tell her family she was homosexual. She signed, and was discharged as “undesirable.”
She received no severance pay or veterans’ health care coverage, and no assistance from the GI bill to go to college. She had worked through channels for decades to try to upgrade her discharge, and finally sued the Air Force this month.