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.”