A bill summary was added to H.R. 4845:
This bill establishes the Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Veterans to consult with the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the administration of benefits for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) veterans, reports and studies pertaining to LGBTQ veterans, and the needs of such veterans with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other benefits and programs.
- Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA-26)
- Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ-3)
- Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-6)
- Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA-41)
- Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1)
- Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10)
To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish the Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Veterans.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. ESTABLISHMENT OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, AND QUEER VETERANS.
(a) Establishment.–Subchapter III of chapter 5 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
“Sec. 548. Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Veterans
“(a) Establishment.–There is in the Department the Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Veterans (in this section referred to as `the Committee’). “(b) Membership.
–(1) The Committee shall consist of members appointed by the Secretary from the general public, including–
“(A) representatives of LGBTQ veterans;
“(B) individuals who are recognized authorities in fields pertinent to the needs of LGBTQ veterans, including the specific health-care needs of LGBTQ veterans;
“(C) representatives of LGBTQ veterans with service-connected disabilities, including at least one lesbian, gay, or bisexual veteran with a service-connected disability, and at least one transgender veteran with a service-connected disability;
“(D) veterans who are minority group members, as defined in section 544 of this title; and
“(E) LGBTQ veterans who are recently separated from service in the Armed Forces, including veterans who were involuntarily separated from the Armed Forces due to being LGBTQ.
“(2) The Committee shall include, as ex officio members–
“(A) the Secretary of Labor (or the designee of the Secretary of Labor after consultation with the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment);
“(B) the Secretary of Defense (or the designee of the Secretary of Defense);
“(C) the Under Secretary for Health (or the designee of such Under Secretary); and
“(D) the Under Secretary for Benefits (or the designee of such Under Secretary).
“(3) The Secretary may invite representatives of other Federal departments and agencies to participate in the meetings and other activities of the Committee.
“(4) The Secretary shall determine the number, terms of service, and pay and allowances of members of the Committee appointed by the Secretary, except that a term of service of any such member may not exceed three years. The Secretary may reappoint any such member for additional terms of service.
“(5) The Committee shall meet as often as the Secretary determines necessary or appropriate, but not less often than twice each fiscal year.
“(c) Consultation.–The Secretary shall consult regularly with and seek the advice of the Committee with respect to the administration of benefits by the Secretary for LGBTQ veterans, reports and studies pertaining to LGBTQ veterans and the needs of LGBTQ veterans with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other benefits and programs administered by the Secretary, including the Center for Women Veterans and Center for Minority Veterans.
–(1) Not later than July 1 of each even-numbered year, the Committee shall submit to the Secretary a report on the programs and activities of the Department that pertain to LGBTQ veterans. Each such report shall include–
“(A) an assessment of the needs of LGBTQ veterans with respect to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach, and other benefits and programs administered by the Secretary;
“(B) a review of the programs and activities of the Department designed to meet such needs; and
“(C) such recommendations (including recommendations for administrative and legislative action) as the Committee determines appropriate.
“(2) The Secretary shall, not later than 60 days after receiving each report under paragraph (1), submit to the Congress a copy of the report, together with any comments concerning the report that the Secretary determines appropriate.
“(3) The Committee may also submit to the Secretary such other reports and recommendations the Committee determines appropriate.
“(4) The Secretary shall submit, with each annual report submitted to Congress pursuant to section 529 of this title, a summary of all reports and recommendations of the Committee received by the Secretary since the previous such annual report.
“(e) LGBTQ Defined.–In this section, the term `LGBTQ’ means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.”.
(b) Clerical Amendment.–The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding after the item relating to section 547 the following new item:
“548. Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Veterans.”.
H.R. 4845, To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish the Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Veterans, would create a committee that would “reflect the diversity and unique needs of the LGBTQ+ veterans community by including professionals in fields related to health care and other needs unique to LGBTQ+ veterans, at least one lesbian, gay, or bisexual veteran with a service-connected disability, at least one transgender veteran with a service-connected disability, minority LGBTQ+ Veterans, and LGBTQ+ Veterans who have been both voluntarily and involuntarily separated from service.”
Additionally, the community would be tasked to assess the needs of LGBTQ+ Veterans with respect to the VA’s benefits and programs and to recommend improvements and adjustments to best meet the needs of LGBTQ+ Veterans.
H.R. 4845 differs from H.R. 1596, introduced in March 2021, in that it specifically pertains to LGBTQ+ Veterans and the VA whereas H.R. 1596 seeks to establish a commission to conduct an investigation into the history and ongoing impacts of the military’s discriminatory policies and practices on LGBTQ+ Servicemembers and Veterans. At this time, H.R. 1596 has been gathering cosponsors and has not moved forward for consideration or votes. The SITREP is tracking H.R. 1596’s progress in the Congress and will be tracking H.R. 4845.
“LGBTQ+ Veterans, whether they served during the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ era, in the years following, or more recently during the Trump administration’s transgender military ban, all face unique challenges after separation or retirement,” Pappas said in a statement. Their voices “need to be heard and effectively represented at the highest levels of VA.”
Congressman Pappas is a co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus and is the first openly gay member of Congress from New Hampshire. Along with 10 other openly LGBTQ+ members, he was part of the most diverse group of LGBTQ+ members of Congress the country has seen.