DelBene Introduces Bill to Include LGBTQ Representation at VA
Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) reintroduced the Voices for Veterans Act, which will expand the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans to include LGBTQ veterans in its membership and scope.
The Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans, established by Congress in 1994, advises the VA Secretary on the needs of minority veterans concerning compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other VA benefits and services. The committee assesses the needs of the nation’s over 5 million minority veterans and recommends program improvements to meet their specific needs.
“Our nation has a responsibility to ensure all our veterans have equal access to the care, benefits, and services they deserve, regardless of who they are and who they love,” said DelBene. “Despite the current anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and anti-transgender policies in our military, our veteran population is becoming more diverse every day. It is now more important than ever that we give LGBTQ veterans a voice in how they’re served and cared for at the VA.”
Under current law, LGBTQ veterans are not included in the committee’s membership or scope. The Voices for Veterans Act will expand its composition and reach to include LGBTQ veterans, ensuring the committee’s assessments and recommendations reflect the needs of this growing population.
"Even with all of the progress we've made, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure that every veteran has access to the benefits and support they earned in service to our nation," said Jennifer Dane, interim executive director of the Modern Military Association of America (MMAA), the nation's largest LGBTQ military and veteran non-profit organization. "LGBTQ veterans continue to face unique challenges and obstacles, and it's critical that the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans' composition and reach are inclusive of this minority community. We're thankful for Congresswoman Suzan DelBene's leadership in working to ensure the voices of LGBTQ veterans and their families are included as they should be."
More than a million LGBTQ veterans have already served our nation. The number has only grown in the decade since the repeal of the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
More information about the Voices for Veterans Act can be found here.