Entries in Lt. Dan Choi (3)


Harry Reid Returns West Point Ring to Lt. Dan Choi

Photo Courtesy - Reid dot Senate dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- At a gathering of liberal activists in Washington last summer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a bold promise to gay rights advocates that he would ensure the Senate repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before the end of the year.

As a reminder of his promise, Reid received the West Point graduation ring of Army 1st Lt. Dan Choi, who had been recently discharged from the military for being gay and become the public face of the campaign for repeal.

"He earned his ring," Reid said. "I'm going to give it back to him."

Wednesday, three days after keeping his promise on the repeal, Reid returned the ring to Choi in his office on Capitol Hill.

"Five months after I promised to repeal #DADT, I'm so happy to give back this West Point ring to @ltdanchoi," Reid tweeted.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Gay Activist Dan Choi Hospitalized for Breakdown

Lt. Dan Choi, who on Nov. 15 handcuffed himself to the White House fence while demanding the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BROCKTON, Mass.) -- The stress of being the gay soldier who publicly challenged the "don't ask, don't tell" law -- facing the inevitable scrutiny that comes with being an activist -- may have become too much for Lt. Dan Choi.

Last Friday, 29-year-old Choi was admitted to the psychiatric ward at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Brockton, Mass., telling supporters in an e-mail that he had experienced a "breakdown and anxiety attack."

Those close to Choi said he would likely be released Thursday or Friday. He did not return telephone calls and e-mails from ABC News.

Choi, who had chained himself to the White House fence three times in protest of the law that bans gays from openly serving in the military, said all veterans carry "human burdens."

He wrote on friend Pam Spaulding's website, Pam's House Blend, that he had been betrayed by "elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name."

When ABC Radio contacted Choi in his hospital room Wednesday, Choi said only, "It's not easy," sounding glum, according to reporter Steve Portnoy.

Choi claimed that he had been involuntarily committed, but a spokesman for the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services was not immediately able to comment.

Dr. Una McCann, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and director of the anxiety disorder program, said hospital emergency rooms can legally hold a patient for 72 hours if they are deemed a danger to themselves, to others or are incompetent.

After three days, only a judge can order a hospital stay without a patient's permission.

"My guess is that [Choi] has something in his genes or in his background of either being depressed or anxious," said McCann. "The campaign he has been waging has been extra stressful and my guess is he has not been getting sleep and it has influenced his ability to cope."

Serving in the military and being gay could also have been a big stress, she said. "Who knows if he was bullied as a kid - all these things affect who you are. Unless you have a supportive environment it may have been a struggle growing up."

Those in the gay community who knew Choi said being in the spotlight and traversing the country staying with friends, as well as the inevitable "hate" that comes with activism had contributed to his breakdown.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Military Now Accepts Gay Recruits, BUT...

Photo Courtesy - Getty Image

(NEW YORK) -- As part of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" injunction, military recruiters have been told to not ask military applicants if they’re gay. More importantly, if the applicant volunteers that they’re gay, it’s not a problem, the application can go forward.  However, openly gay recruits are also being warned that the court’s injunction could be reversed, the same warning issued to gay servicemembers last week.  FYI:  Processing an applicant’s paperwork can usually take months.

It’s been a very confusing week for the Pentagon to try and figure out how a federal judge’s injunction of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" would impact their operations.  It took them two days to put together guidance to legal officers and the service chiefs that the Department of Defense would comply with the judge’s injunction while it appeals the decision.

The guidance that went out last Friday basically told the services not to ask about sexual orientation and cautioned gay servicemembers not to step forward as being gay because if the ruling’s overturned, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would go back into place.

Pentagon spokesperson Cynthia Smith says top personnel chief Cliff Stanley sent another memo on Friday to the recruiting commands telling them to suspend the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" instructions for new military applicants.

The news prompted Iraq War veteran and former Army Lieutenant Dan Choi to tweet that he was headed to the Times Square Recruiting Station in Manhattan Tuesday to re-enlist in the Army while stating that he’s openly gay.

"I'm gonna try to enlist in the Marines today.  Anyone else can meet me at NYC Times Sq now," Choi tweeted.  He later posted, "Walking through Chelsea about to enlist; reminded of our beautiful diversity.  This is what makes America worth defending."

"Today is a great day we can all celebrate," he later said after filling out the paperwork.  "I'm very excited to be in service to this country."

Choi was discharged from the Army National Guard earlier this year under the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" law after he’d come out as gay on an MSNBC news show in 2009.

Under the guidance sent out because of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" injunction, military recruiters would have to take his application.

Gay advocacy groups trumpeted their plans to test the new rules at recruitment stations around the country, as the Pentagon told military recruiters they have to accept applicants who may openly volunteer that they are gay.

Pentagon spokesperson Smith said, however, that recruiters have been told to inform openly gay applicants that a reversal in the court's decision on the injunction against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may occur.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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