Graduation: Spring 2021
Thomas has dedicated many years to protecting and supporting those who serve in the US military through both anti-war activism and mental health intervention research. He has spent the last ten years working with military personnel at the Innovative Programs Research Group. Being highly critical of the military’s interventions yet passionate about the wellbeing of its troops may seem like a paradox at first. But for having experienced prejudice as a queer youth in a conservative Texas town, Thomas has a deep appreciation for “their struggles within the military system as well as their too commonly shared experiences of childhood adversity.”
For his dissertation research, Thomas combines his work with military personnel and personal interest in LGBTQI+ liberation to conduct the first in-depth quantitative analysis of mental health outcomes among active-duty sexual minority service members. “My dissertation investigates mental health outcomes for various subgroups of this population so that interventions to address disproportionality can be effectively targeted,” he wrote.
Ultimately, Thomas hopes that his work will engage with the Grand Challenges by contributing to closing the health gap and eradicating social isolation. His research further explores stigma and access to mental health services in an effort to eliminate barriers between LGBTQI+ service members and improved mental health.