Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veteran Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA) is committed to providing quality care to all Veterans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Veterans. Excellent care has no boundaries.
Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center seeks to promote the health, welfare, and dignity of LGBT Veterans and their families. We are committed to making sensitive and high quality health care accessible. Our policies and practices focus on ensuring a safe, welcoming, and affirmative environment of care for LGBT Veterans. Our employees receive training in clinically competent care that is responsive to the unique needs of LGBT Veterans.
"WHY I AM AN ALLY"
| Written by:
Celena Veverka, LICSW
Sucide Prevention Coordinator and
LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator
Walla Walla VA Medical Center and Clinics
As we approach mid-June of PRIDE Month 2020, we wish we could be celebrating with parades and rainbows. However, as I look around at our world, it is decidedly dark, and not cheery or proud. When we walk outside, we face potential illness, financial struggle, discrimination and abuses, danger, and violence. It’s easy as we socially distance ourselves for our health, to further distance ourselves from those more noble things that we hope to promote in our communities and society. It’s so easy to say, “It isn’t my problem, and I can’t fix the whole world.”
When it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, you might ask why you should stick your neck out for another cause, when you are just trying to stay healthy and safe? Well, I could give you a long list of reasons why I think you SHOULD be an LGBT ally, but this isn’t a cause or a product that I want to sell you. This is people – people whose lives, much like your own, are full of fears and struggles about how they are going to make their way in the world, to make their way home every day – safely.
As the LGBT Veteran’s Care Coordinator for the Walla Walla VA, I can’t tell you what to do, but I can share what has motivated me to be an ally for the LGBT community. First, I want to tell you that I didn’t think of myself as an ally to an entire community until I was placed in this role. Prior to this, I simply felt like a friend who tried to be supportive and loyal.
Secondly, I can’t tell you what it feels like to struggle the way LGBT individuals have struggled. As a woman, I do understand a bit about what it feels like to be told to live within the expectations of others. But even though I do not know their pain personally, my humanity allows me to relate their pain to my own. We have all had experiences where we look around and see people being treated unfairly, being hated or rejected for many reasons.
Over the years, I have seen LGBT people that I love be treated with hatred and violence, to be portrayed by hurtful stereotypes, to be blamed for unrelated societal ills, as well as be rejected and dismissed by their families and communities. In many cases, it was people I thought I knew perpetrating the abuse, and it turned my stomach. In those instances, someone needed to protect those who were threatened and hurt, rather than leaving them to face it alone.
I have seen brave people stand up against their abusers; but they should not have to stand alone. This has motivated me to be an ally for friends, co-workers, family members, and anyone who is part of the LGBT community. When we see this happening, we need to draw on our humanity and ask ourselves "are we going to let people be abused, or are we going to stand with them"? No, we can’t “fix” the world, but we can stand together with pride and kindness, and make the world a more loving place for everyone.
You may not be a member of the LGBT community, but you can be an ally with those who live the struggle to be seen, to be accepted, and loved. I especially invite you to join us this month, however you can, in celebrating the PRIDE of those LGBT Veterans who served our country with military service. Let us stand in the gap for those who committed to do the same for us. Be an LGBT ally today.
LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) Program
As of March 2016, each VA facility has a local LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) who is appointed by their facility leadership. The VCC is responsible for promoting best practices for serving LGBT Veterans and connecting LGBT Veterans to services.
To learn important information about the unique health risks of LGBT Veterans, download these relevant fact sheets. Here you can also find information about relevant services offered by VA.