December 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Choi recuperating after hospital stay

Dan Choi said he’s considering reenlisting in the military once repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is final. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Former Army Lt. and West Point graduate Dan Choi, who drew national media attention by chaining himself to the White House gate to protest ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ was recuperating this week at the home of friends in Cambridge, Mass., after being released from a Veterans Administration hospital in nearby Brockton.

Choi told the Washington Blade in a telephone interview Monday that he checked himself into the hospital’s psychiatric ward after experiencing an anxiety attack related to post-traumatic stress disorder that he’s been suffering since returning from a combat tour in Iraq.

Choi was discharged from the Army earlier this year under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that Congress just overturned. He said the hospital converted his admission status to an involuntary commitment for a few days to ensure that he received proper and continuous treatment.

“When I was in the hospital I was reflecting a lot more and I said I probably do need to take some time and get myself treated,” he said. “And at first I didn’t want it to be public… But I think it’s important now, after having gone through it, that publicizing this and the fact that I did go and get help and that resources are available – that this can be helpful to others going through this.”

Choi’s hospitalization was widely reported in blogs as well as mainline media outlets. News of his admission for psychiatric treatment came about when Choi himself disclosed the information by e-mail to the blog Pam’s House Blend from his hospital bed.

He said one of the contributing factors to his bout of anxiety was the initial failure by opponents of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to overcome a Senate filibuster blocking a bill to repeal the law. But Choi said his spirits were lifted when the Senate voted again on the issue last Saturday, passing the repeal measure by a vote of 65 to 31.

Choi said he’s still strongly considering reenlisting in the Army once the repeal measure is fully implemented. But he said he would likely choose the reserves rather than an active duty enlistment.

“I think I would be much happier being a reservist – to go once a month – and still be an activist,” he said. “As I’ve said, it makes me a better activist to be a soldier and a better soldier to be an activist.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • I’m glad to hear that Lt. Choi is recovering from his nervous breakdown. I actually thought about him when the Senate voted to repeal DADT and wondered if he was watching from the hospital. Now that DADT is settled, I hope we can focus our collective attention on passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act, the Uniting American Familes Act and the repeal of DOMA, because we are a long way from achieving the goal of equality.

    • He is a hero to all Americans except the monstrosity of the vatican and their brainwashed obeiant followers, terrorized into a belief that if they don’t march in lock step with the church they will be sent to hell.

      And of course many of the southern evangelicals fit into the same category. the people whose culture gave us slavery, the kkk , and segregattion.

      And what is ending DADT really about – a million soldiers who will discover that people they work with, respect, and mutually protect each others lives are gay. And those million and their families will be immunized from the hatred and ignorance of the houses of hate.

      BTW there are many good churches if you are relgiious. The UCC, MCC, Evangelical Lutherans, new light Presbyterians, Episcopalss, and almost there the Presbyterian USA. And Jewish reform and many conservatives.

      Even the United Methodists – the most conservative of the middle of the road christians are beginning to change. There are about 6 United methodist churches which are “reconciling” and support gays in the DC metro area. The UMC in the Dupont circle area will also do gay marriage ceremonies.

  • Its a shame that a person who has strived so hard for something that is so needed has to be down for awhile….I wish him the best in his speedy recovery.’
    Hope that he remains on the coat tails of those who offend and unjustly preach
    rhetoric…..and I know that without Choi this triumph would have been a longer and harder road to travel…Keep it up….

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