Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

Katie Miller ’12

Katherine “Katie” Miller was ranked ninth in her West Point class of more than 1,100. She notched better-than-perfect scores the military academy’s physical fitness tests. What “really topped the cake,” she says, was the chance to develop herself “for a cause much bigger than myself.”

But when third-year classes begin at the US Military Academy next week, Miller won’t be in them. She’ll be getting ready for her junior year at Yale.

Miller publicly resigned from West Point this week, offering herself as what she calls “a concrete example of the consequences of a failed law and social policy”: the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibition on homosexual activity. “I identify unequivocally as a lesbian,” Miller wrote in her resignation letter. In obeying the policy, “I have lied to my classmates and compromised my integrity and my identity by adhering to existing military policy.”

Miller, who came out to close friends and family in high school, thought she could “recloset” herself to join the military, she says in a phone interview. “I completely underestimated the personal toll that it would take”—a toll she started to understand at the end of her freshman year, when she had to sit silently during a mandatory student-led discussion of military ethics “as the term ‘fag’ was thrown around, as people made really crude derogatory remarks. I realized that I was going to have to stand up for myself.”

Still, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have called for repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and Miller might have tried to wait it out if not for an imminent deadline. Third-year cadets must commit to finishing the academy and serving five years’ active duty. Miller found she just couldn’t make that promise.

Yale, with its minimal military presence, is “going to be a radical transition,” Miller acknowledges. “I’m going to be pretty torn when it comes to driving away, out the gates of West Point. But Yale is going to offer me an ability to explore who I am and come to terms with myself.” She intends to return to military service as some point. As for when, “I think I need that year at Yale to see.”

Filed under alumnae, lgbtq, military, stepped down
The comment period has expired.