STUDY: Gay Soldiers Who Hide Their Identities Experience More Mental Health Problems

A new study from the University of Montana found that gay soldiers who continue to remain closeted while serving are much more vulnerable to mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety disorders, drug use, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and attempted suicide. About 20 percent of people in the study were discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Here are some of the findings:

  • The actual rate of suicide among gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers is 14.7 percent, compared to 0.0003 percent among the entire veteran soldier community.
  • LGB servicemembers are twice as likely to develop problems with alcohol.
  • LGB servicemembers are five times as likely to show signs of PTSD.
  • 68.7 percent were constantly trying to conceal their sexual orientation.

Researchers argue that even with the repeal of DADT, harassment and victimization of LGB soldiers will likely continue to be a problem in the military, leading to some of these same consequences. In contrast, past studies have also shown that out employees in any workforce not only succeed more themselves, but improve the productivity of their colleagues.