Brian Cozart’s panel in the AIDS Quilt and its many qualities brings about the sense of an individual and makes him come to life. Brian like many others, loved Mickey Mouse. Brian was an accepting individual that enjoyed Godiva and, assumably, had a favorite shirt. Brian was like many of us in a number of ways, however, his honor and courage exceeds those of the average citizen.
Brian Cozart was one of the nearly 225,000 individuals in the U.S. military to die after developing HIV/AIDS. This was the initial spark in my curiosity for HIV/AIDS infected U.S. service members (SMs). How was the military handling HIV/AIDS, a disease stigmatized as an indicator of homosexuality, in an environment that is socially and politically homophobic and discriminatory?
To explore what has been done, and what needs to be done by the Department of Defense (DOD), I will investigate the past and present policies and their effects. Additionally, the military’s lack of research on lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) SMs has made it difficult to provide sufficient healthcare for the physical, mental, and sexual health of those in the LGB community. My ultimate goal is to reveal how the U.S. military dealt with AIDS/HIV and how the military was and still is affected by this disease.
First I will talk about how my AIDS Quilt panel initiated my research journey. I then will discuss the Department of Defense policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) and the effects of this policy before, during, and after its establishment. Simultaneously, the homophobic environment created in the military, through social expectations and policies, will be explored. Following that, I will discuss the lack of research available for homosexual service members and why there is a lack of research. Sequently, the issues involving a lack of HIV/AIDS prevention programs for those at higher risk and the mental health of homosexual servicemen will be investigated, along with appropriate statistics.