VA Secretary McDonough: The VA Welcomes ALL

Today, newly-confirmed Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Denis McDonough issued a message laying out the department’s stance on being a welcoming place for all Veterans, families, caregivers and survivor beneficiaries and employees. Read below:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) welcomes all Veteran, family, caregiver and survivor beneficiaries and employees, inclusive of diverse gender identities and sexual orientation. VA is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and equitable environment for all the Veterans we serve and the workforce that makes it possible for us to accomplish our mission.

Pursuant to President Biden’s recently signed Executive Orders (Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform, signed on January 25, 2021, and Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, signed on January 20, 2021), I will be issuing a memo to all Administrations and Staff Offices to:

Conduct a policy review to determine whether any regulations, directives, policies and procedures require revision to promote equity for and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) Veterans, families, caregivers, survivors or employees. Design and implement a remediation plan if the review identifies discriminatory policies towards LGBT beneficiaries and employees.

Perform an assessment of the necessary steps to eliminate the exclusion of “gender alteration” (gender affirmation surgery) in the medical benefits package to include assessment of statutory and regulatory requirements as well as funding, staffing, technology and other resources required to provide all medically necessary services.

Develop means to measure the experience of LGBT beneficiaries and employees and to include their perspectives in the development of future guidance, and identify and address any barriers that LGBT beneficiaries and employees may face in accessing the full range of VA care, benefits and services.

Develop a plan to ensure that employees are trained on inclusive, respectful and welcoming interaction with LGBT beneficiaries, and implement an enterprise plan to enhance data and information systems with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity, such that beneficiaries and employees may independently and securely self-identify and be addressed by their preferred name and pronouns.

Information regarding LGBT-specific care that VA currently provides can be found at the following link: https://www.patientcare.va.gov/LGBT/#:~:text=Veterans%20may%20have%20other%20ways%20of%20describing%20themselves,,who%20identify%20as%20a%20sexual%20or%20gender%20minority.

Every person at VA, whether a customer or member of our workforce team, should be treated with respect and dignity. Our success as a team—our ability to deliver world-class care for our Veterans—depends on our respect for our fellow VA employees and the Veterans we serve is critical to everything we do.

Denis McDonough

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