The Edward Hines, Jr. VA will be hosting a series of virtual and in-person PRIDE events in June to mark ten years of its LGBT/A (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies) Special Emphasis Program (SEP).
Over the past ten years, Hines has celebrated the diversity of our staff and Veterans in many ways, including participating in local pride parades – like the photo above, from the 2019 parade in Chicago. A joint effort between the SEP and the LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator and committee, Hines engages both staff and Veterans in their Pride programs.
This year, the events will take place to celebrate LGBT Pride Month. Throughout June, rainbow and transgender flags will be placed at the main hospital entrance. Each week, activities will be sent to staff via email to allow them to explore aspects of LGBT culture, educate themselves on LGBT patient care, and to provide resources for their Veterans. The Patriot Café will create rainbow-themed desserts for sale, and staff will be encouraged to decorate their doors and bulletin boards to display their pride.
Specific, one-time events will also be held. A screening and discussion of the short film “Not Another Second” will be held in socially distanced in-person and virtual formats. A “lunch and learn” program for staff continuing education will be offered, titled “Practices for Evolving as LGBT Allyship.” This is part of an ongoing series from the local EVOLVE: Engaging Voices of LGBT Veterans Every day training program. Six sessions per year of the 4-hour training are held, as well as six one-hour lunch and learns to supplement the initial course.
During monthly employee and Veteran virtual town halls, the LGBT program will inform viewers on services available to LGBT Veterans and staff. This information will also be featured in the hospital director’s weekly “Hines Happenings” videos for staff. To cap the month’s events, a celebration marking 10 years of the LGBT/A Special Emphasis Program and LGBT programs at Hines will be held for all. The event will feature speakers as well as a video created with staff and Veterans sharing their experiences about the growth of Hines as an LGBT inclusive health care site. After the event, the video will also be featured on social media and other platforms.
Lorry Luscri is a Hines VA Hospital LGBT Veteran care coordinator and VISN 12 lead.