Recently I caught wind of an independent study being conducted by the University of Maryland Baltimore County about the effects of DADT on the mental health of those who have been directly affected by the policy. After contacting the man responsible for the project directly, I was able to learn a thing or two about this ground-breaking research which barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done.
Initially, the study is being conducted in the form of a survey, and those working on it hope to achieve an impact comparable to early Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) research.
The bulk of the anonymous survey’s 200 participants came from the pool of LGBT servicemembers known as OutServe, and seeks to find a correlation between demographics: actively serving vs veteran, different services, and even hetero - vs homosexual.
In my interview with Jeremy Johnson, the headman behind the research, he pointed out how he feels organizations like the VA are not adequately equipped for the post-DADT generation of troops. He detailed how no guidance exists for them to care for transgender veterans, which leads to an interesting discussion as to whether or not, or to what extent the government should pay for their extensive treatments.
Johnson’s survey also seeks to focus on the services provided to those currently serving, and is concerned they are not being used. The survey asks questions to learn to what degree LGBT servicemebers are afraid to use the chaplain corps, get tested for STDs, or even confide in their chain of command.
From my personal experiences under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy the questions asked in the survey seemed reasonable. The main downside to the survey is its small scale. Due to the fact it is a university survey it is limited to course requirements and limited resources. In order to accomplish its ambitious goals the study needs to extend beyond the constraints and limitations of SurveyMonkey.com.
So what is the next step? Johnson is hoping to conduct one-on-one interviews. If you have been personally affected by DADT, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Officer X is a young, gay military officer who is currently serving on active duty despite the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on open service. He is a pilot and regularly flies throughout the world both in and out of combat. His views are his alone and do not reflect the opinions of the U.S. military, its branches, or any organization. Follow him on Twitter @TIMEOfficerX or email him TIMEOfficerX@gmail.com