Pride Month: celebrating all who served

Access to a safe and welcoming environment


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June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Both women Veterans and Veterans with LGBT and related identities underuse VA care. That makes now an important time to bring attention to the unique needs of Veterans with LGBT and related identities.

VA proudly welcomes all Veterans. VA’s Women’s Health Services and the LGBT Health Program offer resources that can help.

There are more than two million women Veterans and an estimated one million lesbian, gay and bisexual Veterans in the United States.

Veterans with LGBT and related identities are less likely to seek out routine health care, largely due to fear of discrimination. This can lead to long-term health problems. Examples include a higher risk for mental health issues and suicidal thoughts than their non-LGBT peers.

VA is working to create an environment where Veterans with LGBT or related identities feel comfortable talking openly with providers about sexual orientation, gender identity, and mental and physical health challenges.

Safe to share your information

VA’s health care professionals have been trained to keep your information confidential. It is always safe to share your sexual orientation and gender identity with your provider. This is true, even if you have not come out to family or friends.

Being open with your provider about your identity helps VA offer you the best care possible.

If you are not comfortable speaking with your provider about sexual orientation or gender identity, or you think your provider is uncomfortable with these topics, there are ways VA can help.

Each VA facility has an LGBT Veterans care coordinator (VCC) and Women Veterans Program manager who can help you find a provider to fit your needs. To find your local LGBT VCC or see what support and resources your facility offers, visit https://www.patientcare.va.gov/LGBT/VAFacilities.asp.

Services available

Other VA health care services that may help Veterans with LGBT and related identities include:

  • Hormone treatment
  • Substance use/alcohol treatment
  • Tobacco use treatment
  • Treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections/PrEP
  • Intimate partner violence reduction and treatment
  • Heart health
  • Cancer screening, prevention and treatment
  • Help with infertility or family planning

All Veterans should have access to a safe and welcoming environment that takes your unique needs into account. This June and throughout the year, we celebrate and support all who have served.

To learn about health risks and why you should talk to your provider about your sexual orientation identity, birth sex, and self-identified gender identity, visit the fact sheets below:


VA Women’s Health addresses the health care needs of women Veterans and works to ensure that timely, equitable, high-quality, comprehensive health care services are provided in a sensitive and safe environment at VA health facilities nationwide. We strive to be a national leader in the provision of health care for women, thereby raising the standard of care for all women.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Rosetta Taylor    

    Having a daughter in the LGBTQ family, I have opened my heart and arms to everyone. I own a small publishing company and have always welcomed any of their stories, poems, and journals. I believe they would be a blessing to so many more that struggle with loved ones that are less supportive. I encourage them to use their story as a hug. I had one individual who felt I should not support this community. Well…I got that individual out of my life. Everyone is welcome for a hug or to publish their material. I am a service-connected Veteran and I welcome you!

  2. Steve Breight    

    For years now the LGBTQ community has advanced their agenda in society all the way to the Supreme Court because of their belief system. And, yet now, people who do not understand or agree with the LGBTQ lifestyle are labeled as “homophobic “ or other labels and are forced to accept this lifestyle (along with their children and grandchildren) and we cannot express their beliefs in any way, shape, or form. How is this really “equality?”. I am a 68 year old Vietnam Veteran who saw combat in the “brown water Navy” who fought against oppression in it’s most horrific way.

  3. pRKs    

    You might want to know that the Q in LBGTQ stands for Queer, not questioning. It would really be cool if you found a Veteran in the LGBTQ Community to help you write these articles, they can decipher the lingo too.

    1. Arlene R    

      I’m a veteran and have been out for decades, but I always thought the Q was for questioning, too. Lots of people get confused with the sometimes out-of-control acronyms.

      1. pRKs    

        Hi Arlene, I’m a veteran and I was wondering for myself for a while but figured out that I prefer men even though I find women attractive. When they began adding the Q I looked it up. It’s Queer, and some close friends confirmed it for me. I think now it may mean Gender Queer.

    2. Christopher Allan Kudym    

      I am LGBTQ and I disagree with Q for Queer! I Question why more men don’t exclusively wear female clothing like me. I have beem discriminated against by people at the Omaha VA for this, but very few. My pronouns are:
      He
      Him
      His
      Heterosexual
      I guess you could say I am an LGBTQ 4-H
      I have met fellow Vietnam Vets who tell me it takes more courage for me to wear female clothes every day than it did for them to fight in Vietnam!
      Blessings
      Just Chris t Kudym
      9 Year Navy Electronics Honorably Discharged Vietnam Veteran

      1. pRKs    

        I believe it’s because no matter in how many ways people are the same, there will always be just as many ways in which those same people will be different, yes?

        I am a Woman, but I am not the same as all Women.
        I am a Veteran, but I am not the same as all Veterans.
        I am cisgender, but I am not the same as all cisgenders.
        I am Christian, but I am not the same as all Christians.
        I am a Mother, but I am not the same as all mothers.

        And furthermore, if you were to talk to me, you would realize I am not like anyone you have ever met except I am like you too. This is all of us. We are the same and we are entirely different all at once. We are ONE, we are One race, the Human race. When we all choose to accept each other, that is when we will all win.

  4. Michael Kingsland    

    Thank you.
    It’s very hard being in the military and being gay.
    I’ve had to hide it my whole career.
    This is fantastic your doing this for us.

  5. danny    

    I have been in central Illinois for 6 years. In that time I have had 2 VA doctors point blank tell me homosexuality is against their beliefs.

  6. James Douglas Layne    

    On June 8th I had a very upsetting experience at the Athens Ga.V.A. I was meet by an angry security guard with an attitude . After taking my information I could hear an derogatory comment about me to people inside the facility. I was so upset that I left the V.A. and headed back home without seeing my Doctor. I’m a 100%disabled veteran. A combat Veteran, I will turn 65 in October. I weigh only 120 pounds. I’m do threat to anyone. I have no arrest record. But as I left I felt like I was treated like one. I called patient advocate and reported the incident. I call supervisor at the clinic. I called my congressman Douglas Collins in DC. I called the local office in Gainesville Ga.. I called the V.A. hotline. I got apologizes from everyone I talked to. BUT all I really got from all of this was the runaround and now it’s probably going to be covered up. This is how I was treated. The experience upset me so much I have transferred out of the Athens Ga. Clinic. This action is going to cost me money and that’s already in short supply. So who is in control of the security guards and why is the system so broken that it can’t be fixed. Seams like no one is. Patient advocate has not yet called to tell me if anything is being done about it. So just how many other veterans have been treated the same way? Who knows. So I’m speaking out for them as well. Can anyone fix the broken V.A.System. maybe it should be disbanded and privatired. This is only many offensives that I have reported on this clinic. Some have really effected my health . It’s to bad that someone like me gets no answers and no help from anyone I have talked to. I will call patient advocate again and see what’s being done. She has helped me in the past . I hope this angry security guard is removed from the V.A. so much for the statements I have been reading in this blog above about a safe and helpful system

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