Lawmakers, veterans say ‘woke diversity initiatives’ cost taxpayers, hurt military

(The Center Square) – A growing concern about progressive ideology on race and gender at all levels of the U.S. military has sparked outrage and became the center of a Congressional hearing.

Critics have launched a barrage of attacks on the progressive ideology they say is infiltrating the ranks, calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars and arguing it hurts morale, breeds division among troops, and hurts recruitment.

As The Center Square previously reported, DOD has funded drag shows, training for members on things like white privilege and pronoun usage, and more.

The Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs hosted a hearing Thursday called, “The Risks of Progressive Ideologies in the U.S. Military,” where lawmakers and veterans pointed to examples like these of ideological influence in the military.

“Service members who wear the uniform of their country do not want to see these things in the military workplace or at their bases,” Matthew Lohmeier, former lieutenant colonel for the U.S. Space Force, said at the hearing. “There are few things taxpayers such as myself feel is less essential to the mission of our military than expanding diversity mandates and indoctrination.”

The effort has serious taxpayer implications. The Pentagon leadership asked Congress for $140 million to grow what Lohmeier called “woke diversity initiatives” in fiscal year 2024, a spike from the request of $86.5 million the year prior and more than double the $68 million 2022 request.

U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., spoke at the hearing, blasting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion authors who have taught at the Air Force academy.

“What these authors say is that ‘if you are white you are incapable of not being racist.’ That in and of itself is racist, sir,” Waltz said. “And by the way, these [authors] were lecturers at the Air Force academy. That is divisive, destructive, and wrong.”

Lohmeier testified that data shows 62% of active-duty military members say the military has become politicized and 65% said they would tell their own children not to join. That figure comes amid a recruiting crisis for the Defense Department, which announced it fell short of its last fiscal year recruiting goal by 41,000. Notably, the DOD had already lowered its recruiting goals in anticipation of the reduction in interest.

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., released a report at the end of 2022 detailing more examples, pointing out that members espousing these progressive views are left alone while some conservatives have faced discipline.