PHOENIX (KSAZ) - July marks the first time that transgendered people are openly allowed to serve in the U.S. military. The decision was made by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who has been studying the issue for the past year.
Joseph Burwell, a transgender man who served in the Army years ago as a woman, says this is a step in the right direction.
"Many years ago before don't ask, don't tell, I was discharged under less than honorable circumstances because I was a homosexual.. I was a woman.. I was serving in the U.S. Army as a woman," he said.
Last year, he began the process of transitioning into a man.
"When you know this is the thing that makes you whole, that makes you authentic, you do it," he said.
With the latest decision from the Pentagon that they will now allow transgendered individuals to serve, Burwell, who now works as a physician for the State Department that provides medical care to military personnel in the Middle East, says this is a step in the right direction.
"We've always served, there have always been LGBT serving just like there have always been people of color serving, who also, by the way, were not able to serve," he said. "Women haven't been able to serve."
After serving in the military, he doesn't see any issue with having transgendered individuals in combat.
"We want the best and brightest in our military," he said. "I think we need to open it up to everyone who wants to serve."
Recently, Burwell's dishonorable discharge was reversed to an honorable one.