The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been lobbied, by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), to make changes to how it cares for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) veterans, according to an article in The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News. These suggestions weren’t limited to veterans with disabilities, but instead focused on overall improvements in care.
The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell changed the military environment and by extension the VA’s environment as well. There were concerns that the VA wasn’t prepared to deal with the number of veterans who may now be openly LGBT and seeking VA assistance. In fact, multiple reports of mistreatment of LGBT veterans were cited.
While the concern stays open, the SLDN discussed multiple areas in which the VA should improve, which include some of the following:
- issuing generalized directives establishing uniform treatment of veterans regardless of sexual orientation;
- re-wording all VA publications to ensure neutral wording is used regarding sexual orientation;
- ensuring LGBT partners are given identical visitation rights as straight partners during hospital stays; and
- ensuring LGBT partners are given the identical privileges and benefits that are extended to veteran spouses as “permitted by the Defense of Marriage Act.”
There was no advocating for special treatment. Indeed, it was stressed LGBT veterans and their families shouldn’t be treated any differently than traditional veterans and their families as far as receiving veterans benefits and recognition.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been unfairly treated, denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from Veterans Help Group is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-855-855-8992.