VA is working hard to make sure that LGBQT+ Veterans know that they can turn to VA for care and support through innovative new programs that aid LGBTQ+ Veterans with their care and better train VA staff in caring for and supporting these Veterans. Following Pride last month, the latest episode of the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHA:IE) podcast dives into three incredible programs that are making VA a more supportive and welcoming place for the more than 1 million LGBTQ+ Veterans.
The episode starts with our guest host Brynn Cole, an innovation specialist at the White River Junction VA Medical Center, in an in-depth discussion with the team behind a program called Serving All Who Served. Cole spoke with Tiffany Lange-Altman, LGBT Veteran care coordinator at the Hampton VAMC, and Michelle M. Hilgeman, clinical psychologist at the Tuscaloosa VAMC, on this groundbreaking program, which is an LGBTQ+ health education group that guides Veterans through their health care while improving their mental health and reducing identity-related stress. With many LGBTQ+ Veterans still not feeling as though they are welcome at VA, this Innovators Network practice is working to let these Veterans know that the care they earned is available to all.
That care is evolving as well. In the second segment of this episode, VHA:IE looks at how VA is tackling the challenge of educating our caregivers in LGBTQ+ care with a program called LGBT Champion Education Program, another Innovators Network practice. This practice allows caregivers to sit down with LGBQT+ Veterans and practice engaging with them in a safe environment where they can ask questions and make mistakes without potentially damaging a relationship with a real patient.
For the final VA program, VHA:IE gets a little wild, featuring the first ever VA drag show. Host Brynn Cole sits down with her co-organizer Calvin Smith, a social worker at the Manchester VA Medical Center, in a fun look at Queens, Queers, and Camo, the highly successful drag show the pair put on last month.
In addition to providing a fun time for the Veterans, staff, and public who attended, the show brought together a community for the first time – all while raising funds for White River Junction VAMC’s LGBTQ+ Health and Equality workgroup.
Rounding out the show is a discussion with Jennifer Dane, a diversity and policy analyst at non-profit The American Military Partner Association . Dane, an Air Force Veteran, discusses AMPA’s goal of full LGBT equality in the military and their work to bring equality to today’s military families by connecting LGBT military families, supporting them through their unique challenges, honoring them for their service to our nation, and advocating on their behalf.
We hope you’ll join us for this episode, and please remember to subscribe and leave a review. You can find VHA:IE on any of the platforms below.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/Irsifznrjkaz563cw6kuwapx6kq?t=VAIE
VHA’s VHA:IE podcast is a new show dedicated to discussing and promoting the groundbreaking work being done across VA to advance our care and support of Veterans. Each episode, we will discuss a specific challenge that VA is facing, and how front-line employees and Veterans themselves are taking innovative steps to tackle these challenges. We’ll also be discussing these efforts on a broader scale with private sector organizations and individuals who are working in the same sphere. We’re hoping to give everyone better insight into the many ways that VA is adapting and growing to better serve an ever-changing Veteran population.