Ian Holloway, an assistant professor of social welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, will collaborate with two USC faculty members on a research study of the experiences of LGBT military service members.

The two-year study, supported by a $1.89 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, marks one of the first times that the department has funded a study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender active-duty service members since the 2010 repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the law barring homosexuals from openly serving in the military.

The study comes at a critical time as the department updates current policy relating to transgender service members and allowing them to serve openly in the military.

“We’ll actually be able to talk to transgender service members and see how they feel about this policy shift and if they see an impact on their service,” said Holloway, who is collaborating with assistant professors Jeremy Goldback and Carl Castro of the USC School of Social Work. Holloway’s research expertise includes analysis of LGBT social networks, which can contribute to health outcomes. Castro is a subject-matter expert in the military, including how service members integrate into the military and transition to civilian life, and Goldbach has studied LGBT mental health issues.

The study is intended to lay a foundation for future research of LGBT active-duty service members by exploring how they are integrated into the military; to determine if health disparities exist between them and their heterosexual counterparts; and to develop recommendations for better assimilation of LGBT service members to promote military readiness.

“I think all of us feel a tremendous sense of responsibility,” Holloway said. “Our study will be able to elicit from LGBT military personnel themselves what they see as their challenges and provide insights to improve their individual outcomes and improve the overall organizational structure.”

Read the complete release on the UCLA Luskin website.