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Sacramento veteran says he was denied a VA home loan because he's gay

Alejandro Brambila was honorably discharged from the military for being gay during "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Military veterans receive a number of benefits following their time of service, including money for education and home loans. Sacramento veteran, Alejandro Brambila, said he was recently denied a Veteran’s Administration home loan because he’s gay.

Brambila was honorably discharged in 2009 for being gay. Yet now, he says he can't claim his VA home loan benefit because they're telling him he doesn't meet the time served requirement.

Brambila is currently an elementary school teacher. He entered the military when he was 19 years old.

“I was in the Coast Guard. I served in South Carolina, and I was on the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas,” Brambila said.

He said, at the time, he was still figuring a lot out.

“I was very religious and had a girlfriend. And so at the time, I really didn’t think that I was gay. I knew something was abnormal, and I remember praying about not wanting to be gay,” Brambila said.

Slowly though, he said he began to figure it out.

“I think I was a little bit more learning about myself, becoming a little bit more flamboyant and comfortable, and so eventually, I told that I was gay,” Brambila said.

"Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was in full effect at the time. It was a federal policy adopted in 1994 by the Clinton administration. It banned openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from serving in the military.

Brambila was discharged from the military after nine months of service.

“I was separated honorably. On my discharge paper, it says homosexual admission,” Brambila said.

"Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was eliminated in 2011.

READ ALSO: Disney workers plan walkout to protest 'Don't Say Gay' bill

In February 2022, Brambila thought he had found his dream home. It was exactly what he wanted. He just needed a home loan, which he assumed he would get through the VA.

“So after speaking to a specific firm, I gave them my DD214, which has honorable discharge. It shows the reason why I was separated and everything on there. They immediately assumed I would qualify, as I did, because I received my GI bill,” Brambila said.

However, at the time of the appraisal, he received a letter from the VA saying they needed more information.

“They said they needed one extra form that tells them my narrative reason for separation. And I shared with them, ‘Well, okay, it says homosexual admission.’ They said that I don’t qualify, and the guy literally hang up at the VA office,” Brambila said.

He said it felt like he was being discriminated against all over again.

“Well, what it did is it brought me back to the time that I was in 2009. I was 19. I was still young. You know, I was exploring the world, and immediately, I was told that something was wrong with me,” Brambila said.

According to the VA’s home loan website, veterans typically need 24 months of continuous service to qualify. However, they need just 90 days if they were discharged for a number of different reasons.

“If you’re discharged with a certain narrative reason for separation, you qualify. Homosexual admission is not there yet,” Brambila said. “What I’m fighting for is for it to be there, for them to recognize that is a reason why people should receive their benefits for being discriminated on while in the military.”

Brambila said he feels like the people who were discharged prior to the end of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" have been forgotten about.

About 14,000 service members were discharged because of the policy.

Brambila said, now, even people at the VA are encouraging him to fight.

“I talked to this woman today to give me a new denial letter. And so she said, ‘You need to fight this issue.’ And she literally said, ‘You need to take this up with your congressperson,’ she said. ‘Because people have not screamed loud enough for this to be overturned.’”

That’s what Brambila said he’s doing. He said it’s his students that keep him going.

“I told them what was happening and then the whole conversation ended up in the classroom turning to civil rights,” he said.

He said it makes him realize the issue is about more than just himself.

“If I shut down in that moment and said I’m done, then it would have been me not being an actual advocate for what I believe in,” Brambila said.

ABC10 reached out to the VA for comment but did not receive a statement by deadline.

Brambila said another veteran at Mortgage Rite was able to get him a Federal Housing Administration loan to save his home purchase, though it was a more expensive loan. He received the keys to his home Tuesday and said he’s not giving up his fight.

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