Veterans Now Able to Enter/Edit Gender ID, Preferred Name

The following information was released today:

The Department of Veterans Affairs includes gender identity and preferred name in its national medical record system to help VA providers better understand and meet the health care needs of Veterans. As of June 25th, 2022, VA patients can view, enter and edit their gender identity and preferred name at VA.gov Home | Veterans Affairs. This new feature of VA.gov gives Veterans the ability to enter information about themselves into their health record without going through a VA staff person.  With this new solution, VA is giving Veterans more control and choice when it comes to their healthcare information.

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The review team examined three distinct samples of claimed conditions potentially related to burn pit exposure completed from May 1, 2020, to May 1, 2021, and found VBA could improve its processing and oversight. Though VBA staff nearly always made the correct decision in granting compensation for conditions identified as burn pit-related, the OIG found most denials were premature.

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

VAntage Point: Caregivers Can Get COVID-19 Tests, Vaccine

According to VAntage Point, the VA’s official blog, Caregivers of Veterans are now eligible for COVID-19 testing and vaccination:

Designated family caregivers of Veterans participating in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers can receive COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

Each facility will determine its own start date based on site-specific resources, needs and vaccine availability.

“Caregivers play a critical role in caring for some of our most vulnerable Veterans,” said VA Acting Under Secretary for Health Richard A. Stone, M.D. “One of the most important things we can do for caregivers is to help them take care of themselves. The current pandemic has amplified the importance of our caregivers whom we recognize as valuable members of Veterans’ health care teams.”

The testing and vaccines will be administered in line with CDC allocation guidelines. Vaccinations will be offered in accordance with VA’s phased risk stratification framework and will build upon elements outlined in the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for the Veterans Health Administration. Veterans and their caregivers can get the latest information and sign up to receive updates on VA’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

For more information visit VA’s Caregiver Support Program, contact your local facility’s VA Caregiver Support Coordinator or call the Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274 from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More Information

VA’s COVID-19 vaccine information is at https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/stay-informed. People can sign up to get updates on how VA is providing vaccines across the country. The site also provides updates when people can get vaccines.

Visit the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers website at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/support_benefits.asp.

Visit VA’s Caregiver Support Program site at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.

Find a Caregiver Support Coordinator at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/New_CSC_Page.asp.

Read the COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for the Veterans Health Administration at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/n-coronavirus/VHA-COVID-Vaccine-Plan-14Dec2020.pdf.

Find a VA location at https://www.va.gov/find-locations/.

With COVID-19 Vaccines in Sight, the VA Preps Plans to Distribute

Over and over since the COVID-19 pandemic fired up earlier this year, we’ve seen grim milestone after grim milestone passed with disturbing speed. With nearly 11.5 million cases and 250,000 deaths in the U.S., we’ve perhaps become numb to the statistics. In that numbness, perhaps we’ve made an unconscious decision to stop looking for a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. With so much happening in 2020, news of something like a vaccine seemed far off. That may have changed.

Continue reading “With COVID-19 Vaccines in Sight, the VA Preps Plans to Distribute”

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