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Accidental 'I Love You' Derailed Gay Navy SEAL's Career

Posted by on Feb. 14, 2014 at 7:35 PM
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Decorated Navy SEAL Brett Jones had already survived two harrowing deployments overseas when, back in the states, his world came crashing down around him, all thanks to an answering machine.

It was the morning after a welcome back party, and Jones was calling to thank a fellow Navy serviceman who organized the bash. The man wasn't in, so Jones left him a message at his military office, and then he did something without thinking about it.

"I said, 'I love you' before I hung up," Jones told ABC News, recounting the story by email.

The man Jones had called was his longtime boyfriend and part of an entire life Jones had for years kept hidden from even his closest SEAL comrades and, even more importantly at the time, the Navy. This was 2002, nearly a decade before the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and a time when serving openly in any service as homosexual was forbidden. Jones said he had known he was gay since he was 6-years-old and had just decided to risk keeping the secret in order to serve with one of the most elite military forces in the world.

But those three words just about did him in. He said a woman in the same office as Jones' boyfriend at the time heard the message and reported it up the Navy's chain of command.

"That was all it took for the Navy to launch a full-scale investigation that lasted for months," Jones told ABC News.

Jones said the military pulled his hard-earned security clearance and "treated [him] like [he] was a criminal."

"It was one of the most difficult times of my life," Jones said. "It was so damn humiliating."

"Brett Jones served his country honorably," Navy spokesperson Greg Raelson told ABC News in response to a request for comment for this report.

A spokesperson for the Navy declined to offer comment for this report when contacted by ABC News Wednesday, but said he was looking into Jones' allegations.

Jones' SEAL team quickly found out, and though Jones said the special operations world is "ultra-masculine" and apt to paint the gay community in a negative light, actually most of his teammates were supportive.

"Of course there would be guys who would talk and whisper behind my back, but overall I received the best support one could hope for from their brothers," he said. "I will always be thankful for those brave SEALs."

by on Feb. 14, 2014 at 7:35 PM
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