Image: Dan Choi
Pablo Martinez Monsivais  /  AP file
Lt. Dan Choi, center, has taken part in protests against the military's "dont ask, don't tell" policy. He is seen here in front of the White House on Nov. 15, moments before he handcuffed himself to the fence during a protest for gay rights.
updated 12/15/2010 12:01:20 PM ET 2010-12-15T17:01:20

Lt. Dan Choi, an openly gay Army veteran who has been an outspoken critic of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, confirmed Wednesday that he has been hospitalized after suffering a "nervous breakdown."

Choi indicated he was distressed by the failure by Congress to repeal the 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops in the military.

The Senate last week blocked a military spending bill that would have repealed "don't ask, don't tell." The House on Wednesday passed a stand-alone bill that would overturn the policy.

"Anxiety attack and nervous breakdown after senate dadt ndaa vote. Overall stressors were many: family, homelessness, discharge and activist rollercoaster," Choi said in an e-mail message sent to from his iPhone.

He said he was "highly medicated/sedated" and being treated at the VA Medical Center in Brockton, Mass. "Here for the time being," he wrote.

On Tuesday, Choi said in an e-mail to Pam Spaulding and Rex Wockner, two colleagues who blog about gay and lesbian issues, that he was "involuntarily committed" to the hospital's psychiatric ward Friday morning after experiencing "a breakdown and anxiety attack."

On her blog, Pam's House Blend, Spaulding shared the contents of Choi's e-mail.

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"I did not initially want to publicize this but I now realize it is critical for our community to know several things: veterans gay or straight carry human burdens, Activists share similar burdens, no activist should be portrayed as super human, and the failures of government and national lobbying carry consequences far beyond the careers and reputations of corporate leaders, elected officials, High powered lobbyists, or political elites. They ruin lives," Choi wrote in the e-mail to Spaulding.

"My breakdown was a result of a cumulative array of stressors but there is no doubt that the composite betrayals felt on Thursday, by elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name for their marketing purposes have added to the result. I am certain my experience is not an isolated incident within the gay veteran community."

Spaulding said that Choi "clearly wanted to share what he could have left private, or had to deal with had information about this leaked out."

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"But this is another gift to the community — to open up a multi-faceted discussion: 1) the mental health toll taken by gay and lesbian service members; 2) the stressors that arise when also thrown into the public eye as a matter of fate or circumstance, not as a job," Spaulding wrote on her blog.

In an e-mail Tuesday to the Village Voice, Derek Washington of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Southern Nevada said the battle to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" was "weighing far too heavily" on Choi's mind and spirit.

"It's a role he took on as much by circumstance as choice, and he's served honorably, but he is only human and needs to take care of himself in order to help others," Washington wrote. "Dan called me today to let me know that it had all gotten a little too much for him lately. After last week's DADT vote, Dan, for lack of a better term, 'lost it' and decided to seek professional help through the Veterans Administration."

Choi was discharged in July after he appeared on msnbc TV's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on March 19, 2009, and announced he is gay.

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Video: McCain family publicly split over DADT

  1. Closed captioning of: McCain family publicly split over DADT

    >>> he once said if the military leadership said it was time to end it he would listen. they did. he still did not. but in our fourth story, john mccain , what will he do now that his wife publicly advocated in a sense for the repeal of don't ask, don't tell? we listen to her? "the new york times" reporting that a draft of the long awaited pentagon report on don't ask, don't tell concludes that repealing it will not have an adverse effect on the military but the majority of active duty service members welcome open service and repealing the law may cause temporary disruptions but nothing that couldn't be overcome with the right leadership. seems like it would be a great opportunity for this senator mccain from 2006 .

    >> the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, senator, we ought to change the policy, then i think we ought to consider seriously changing it.

    >> that day came in february. the defense secretary mr. gates the chairman of the joint chiefs admiral mullen testifying to the armed services committee saying end the policy. mccain , the ranking republican told them you're wrong.

    >> at this moment of immense hardship for our armed services we should not be seeking to overturn the don't ask, don't tell policy.

    >> mccain led the successful filibuster to block the repeal of don't ask, don't tell in september and he pay do it again in the lame duck session . so color us intrigued over this anti-bullying message from the no hate campaign featuring cindy mccain . the senator's wife blaming government policies for contributing to the problem.

    >> our political and religious leaders tell lgbt youth that they have no future.

    >> they can't get married.

    >> they can't donate blood.

    >> they can't serve our country openly.

    >> what's worse, these laws that legislate discrimination --

    >> teach bullies what they're doing can acceptable.

    >> our government treats the lgbt community like second class citizens. why shouldn't they?

    >> time now to call in lieutenant dan choy, former army officer and iraq war veteran discharged under don't ask, don't tell. currently an advisory council member of the american foundation for equal rights . thank you for some of your time tonight.

    >> great to be with you, keith.

    >> am i overstating this? there's further information from her but it seems like an extraordinary thing for her to do given her husband's position on this and given that she probably could have made a case in that public service announcement without contradicting him at all.

    >> i think it's very significant what she said because it underscores the values behind the repeal effort and the values behind any kind of movement to restore justice or to increase freedom and to support our basic values. what you're seeing, though, i think in the mccain family is mrs. mccain misses what mr. mccain was when probably she married him, a maverick who was able to stand up for what he knew was right, saying that, look, if the military leadership says let's get rid of it, let's do the right thing and get rid of it. it looks that in my opinion, there is a don't ask, don't tell policy, not only in the military but in certain political parties where we're saying we shouldn't be able to say what we know is the right thing to do.

    >> there is this as i suggested update from her. she tweeted not long ago i fully support the no hate campaign and all it stands for and am proud to be part of it but i stand by my husband's stance on dadt. i guess the simple question on that is how is that possible?

    >> it corrects everything that the no hate campaign stands for and it makes no sense. i think when you talk about as she did in some of the psa that bullying leads to the suicides and when you talk about the legislation that okays the bullying we have to realize that if you speak one way and then your actions speak in a different way, it's irreconcilable and immoral. we have to realize one thing, that there's allowed homophobia on the part of certain people with certain platforms but there is also a silent homophobia on the part of certain people who have the power but do nothing. loud homophobia and soft or silent homophobia end up having the same result.

    >> for months the republicans said, you know, wait until this report is out from the pentagon before voting on repeal. now we've got a preliminary sense of what's in it. how does senator mccain , how do the others continue to justify their position?

    >> there's no justification for discrimination. i don't know how they got away with it in the first place. i think when you take a look at what the study was saying, we are validated in the fact that if you listen to the veteran, if you listen to those soldiers who are serving on the ground right now and the younger generation who says why are you even making an issue of this, there's gay people everywhere. there's gay people in our military units , in our churches, in our families, in our communities and there is no reason to have any kind of discriminatory policy or unjustified study or poll. well, we talk about when we want to get rid of discriminatory and unjust policies and unconstitutional infringement on our way of life , i think we have to realize that if we don't speak up because it's the right thing to do, then we really are failing beginning and to say that we need to have a study, that's the reason why we're here in the first -- why we're here in the first place with only so many more weeks in a lame duck session to get rid of don't ask, don't tell. if you really want to do a study you could have started that immediately but the bottom line is you don't need to study discrimination. you just need to do the right thing and get rid of it.

    >> last thing maybe the overarching news. there's a linkage that a lot wouldn't jump to moodily. does don't ask, don't tell in the military actually connect to bullying in the civilian world?

    >> absolutely. when you have justified discrimination in any government agency or in any public policy , you give cover to those people to those young kids who can say not only that is so gay or give negative and pejorative statements and saying that's the gayest thing i've ever heard or when you use the term faggot i think you're giving cover to those bullies on the playground when you're a bully in the legislative arena and that's what we need to learn, learn responsibility in parenting and learn some responsibility in our lowership and public discourse .

    >> lieutenant dan choi discharged from the military under don't ask, don't tell. as always great thanks.

    >> thanks, keith.


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