between their personal and professional lives can now integrate
the two more naturally. And Simonson thinks the fact that he’s
out makes it easier for members of other minority groups in
the military to open up to him in treatment, especially if sexual
orientation is a presenting problem.
Overall, though, Simonson and others say the repeal of
DADT marks more of a policy shift than a huge social change in
“A lot of LGB troops were already out to people in their unit
even before the repeal,” says Stacey Furia, PhD, a researcher at
the University of California, Los Angeles and co-author of the
report “One Year Out: An Assessment of DADT Repeal’s Impact
on Military Readiness.” “But the fact that Simonson is out to
begin with — that’s a new thing,” says Furia.
While Simonson is thrilled to serve in the Air Force and
proud to be a positive role model, he’s more interested in the
work he’s doing than in the symbolism of his position.
“My No. 1 priority is applying my clinical skills to help all
service members,” he says.
During the first half of his internship, he conducted
individual and group therapy, including work with a number
of lesbian, gay and bisexual soldiers. He’s also one of the first
people to talk to service members who return early from
deployment due to mental health issues.
Harriet Brown is a writer and professor of magazine journalism
at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.