June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Both women Veterans and Veterans with LGBT and related identities underuse VA care. That makes now an important time to bring attention to the unique needs of Veterans with LGBT and related identities.
VA proudly welcomes all Veterans. VA’s Women’s Health Services and the LGBT Health Program offer resources that can help.
There are more than two million women Veterans and an estimated one million lesbian, gay and bisexual Veterans in the United States.
Veterans with LGBT and related identities are less likely to seek out routine health care, largely due to fear of discrimination. This can lead to long-term health problems. Examples include a higher risk for mental health issues and suicidal thoughts than their non-LGBT peers.
VA is working to create an environment where Veterans with LGBT or related identities feel comfortable talking openly with providers about sexual orientation, gender identity, and mental and physical health challenges.
Safe to share your information
VA’s health care professionals have been trained to keep your information confidential. It is always safe to share your sexual orientation and gender identity with your provider. This is true, even if you have not come out to family or friends.
Being open with your provider about your identity helps VA offer you the best care possible.
If you are not comfortable speaking with your provider about sexual orientation or gender identity, or you think your provider is uncomfortable with these topics, there are ways VA can help.
Each VA facility has an LGBT Veterans care coordinator (VCC) and Women Veterans Program manager who can help you find a provider to fit your needs. To find your local LGBT VCC or see what support and resources your facility offers, visit https://www.patientcare.va.gov/LGBT/VAFacilities.asp.
Other VA health care services that may help Veterans with LGBT and related identities include:
- Hormone treatment
- Substance use/alcohol treatment
- Tobacco use treatment
- Treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections/PrEP
- Intimate partner violence reduction and treatment
- Heart health
- Cancer screening, prevention and treatment
- Help with infertility or family planning
All Veterans should have access to a safe and welcoming environment that takes your unique needs into account. This June and throughout the year, we celebrate and support all who have served.
To learn about health risks and why you should talk to your provider about your sexual orientation identity, birth sex, and self-identified gender identity, visit the fact sheets below:
- VA Health Care for Transgender Men
- VA Health Care for Transgender Women
- VA Health Care for Gay and Bisexual Men
- VA Health Care for Lesbian and Bisexual Women
- Connect with your Provider
This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.