Serving LGBT Veterans with PRIDE - VA Palo Alto Health Care System
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VA Palo Alto Health Care System

 

Serving LGBT Veterans with PRIDE

VA Palo Alto Health Care System participates in the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 28, 2015

VA Palo Alto Health Care System LGBT staff, Veterans and allies participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 28, 2015

By Kathleen Thomas, LISW-S, Social Work, VAPAHCS
Thursday, July 2, 2015

The VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) is honored to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Veterans. Nation-wide, there are an estimated one million LGBT Service Members and Veterans. Throughout history, LGBT Service Members and Veterans have made significant (and often unknown) contributions to the US Military. Did you know General Baron von Steuben, a gay man, was hired by General George Washington to organize the US colonies into a single uniform military? He is credited for the success of the American Revolution. His efforts were so effective that his tombstone reads "Indispensable to the Achievement of American Independence." LGBT Veterans have also made contributions to civilian society. It was Gilbert Baker, a gay Veteran in San Francisco who designed the Rainbow Pride Flag used throughout the world today.

As an LGBT Veteran, you may face unique health related issues due to the stress of war and the former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy. LGBT Veterans have higher rates of smoking, fewer preventive screenings, and higher rates of mental health challenges. Unfortunately, stigma and fear of discrimination keep some LGBT people from seeking medical and mental health care. VAPAHCS recognizes that having faced anti-LGBT discrimination in civilian and military communities, many LGBT Veterans also develop unique forms of strength and resilience.

To address these experiences, VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s LGBT Program provides resources and support to both LGBT Veterans and VA Staff. LGBT Veterans are invited to participate in a weekly support group. Here, you can discuss your needs, strengths, and life goals among LGBT Veteran peers in an open and supporting environment. Topics of discussion include coming out to medical providers, creating healthy relationships, reducing isolation and developing pride in an LGBT Veteran identity.

VAPAHCS supports LGBT Veteran’s access to nonjudgmental quality care. The Safe Space Campaign trains staff to create an environment where discrimination is not tolerated and human diversity is valued. VAPAHCS LGBT Programs for Veterans and Staff have been recognized for leadership in Health Care Equality.

At VAPAHCS, we look forward to providing you with the high quality, individualized care every Veteran deserves. If you have further questions about the VAPAHCS LGBT Veteran Support Group, please contact Gabriel Lonero. If you would like to learn about the Special Emphasis Program for VA Staff, please contact Kathleen Thomas.

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