VA joins President Biden in saluting our LGBTQ+ Veterans this month, and every month. Pride Month is also a reminder that just as LGBTQ+ Veterans volunteered to defend our freedom, it is our responsibility to help defend theirs.
“I often say that America can be defined by one word: possibilities,” said President Joe Biden. In his Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, And Intersex Pride Month, the President affirmed, “This month, we celebrate generations of LGBTQI+ people who have fought to make the possibilities of our nation real for every American.”
Continuing the fight for LGBTQ+ rights
More than a decade after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, LGBTQ+ Veterans continue to face discrimination and violence in America, simply for being their authentic selves.
The consequences of such discrimination reverberate across generations. LGBTQ+ Veterans are more than twice as likely to have indicators of housing instability in their VHA medical records compared with non-transgender Veterans. Rejection from their families and exclusion from employment opportunities contribute to homelessness among LGBTQ+ Veterans.
Many of the risk factors for homelessness that LGBTQ+ Veterans face – including decreased social support, stressful life events, and chronic discrimination – overlap with risk factors for suicide. Tragically, those who have a sexual and/or gender minority are more likely than their cisgender and heterosexual peers to experience suicidal ideation and behavior.
The high rates of these outcomes among LGBTQ+ Veterans are distressing, but they can be prevented.
VA: A place for all Veterans
Providing care that is free from stigma is a critical step toward ending homelessness, preventing suicide and ensuring all LGBTQ+ Veterans can live safely and freely in the country they served.
VA is committed to making all Veterans feel comfortable and supported. At every VA medical center, an LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator is ready to help Veterans navigate their care, answer their questions, and advocate on their behalf. Through initiatives like the PRIDE program, VA facilitates training for staff members and Veterans alike to reduce health disparities for Veterans across the nation.
In 2021, VA Secretary Denis McDonough ordered a review of VA policies to ensure that transgender Veterans and employees do not face discrimination based on their gender identity and expression.
Flying the flag with pride
As our nation celebrates Pride Month, VA encourages all Americans to identify how they can best support the LGBTQ+ Veterans in their lives. Honoring them could be as simple as asking their preferred pronouns, sharing resources that could help a fellow Veteran, or displaying the Rainbow Flag designed by Army Veteran Gilbert Baker in 1978.
This Pride Month, VA honors and celebrates Baker, and all LGBTQ+ Veterans who have dedicated their lives to ensuring America fulfills the promise of freedom to all Americans, no matter who they are, or whom they love.
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