Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first Marine to receive a critical injury in Iraq, has become a crusader for gay rights in the military, and he knows exactly how to handle critics: “OK buddy ... you pick up a gun and you go fight in Iraq or Afghanistan for a while, then you could come back and we can have a talk because I’ve actually sacrificed, I’ve actually done duty and served in this country for your rights and freedom.”
The first U.S. Marine seriously wounded in Iraq , Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, lost his leg when he stepped on a land mine. Now he and his prosthetic leg have marched right into one of the most contentious battles in American politics.
Alva joined with Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., as a bipartisan group of Congress members pushed legislation to overturn the ban on openly gay and lesbian troops serving in the military.
Alva says that losing his leg forced him out of the closet.
“It made me realize everything that I had to actually speak up for,” Alva said Wednesday. “Basically the rights and privileges of what I as an individual have earned in this country.”