Tammy Duckworth Wants LGBTQ Vets Included in Minority Group Members
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced a bill to amend the Department of Veterans Affairs’ definition of “minority group member” to explicitly include LGBTQ veterans. The LGBT VA Advocacy Inclusion Act would authorize the VA’s Center for Minority Veterans (CMV), an office in VA’s Central Office, to include these veterans in their mission. While the CMV has historically been inclusive of all minority veterans, the Trump administration and its political appointees have strictly enforced that CMV employees are not authorized to include LGBT veterans in their advocacy and outreach. “We owe all Veterans who have defended our Nation access to the healthcare and benefits we promised, and they have rightfully earned – regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation,” said Duckworth, an Iraq war combat vet. “LGBT Veterans face unique challenges and barriers to accessing the care and benefits we promised them, and because of this they are experiencing unacceptable health disparities such as increased mental illness, depression, suicidal ideation, certain cancers, and intimate partner violence at far higher rates than other veterans.” The Senator was joined by Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH) in the bill’s introduction. The CMV was established in 1994 during the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” era with limited authority to serve only “minority group member” veterans, defined as racial and ethnic minorities -- Asian American, Black, Hispanic Native American, or Pacific Islander American -- not members of the LGBTQ community. More here.