WASHINGTON D.C. — The Modern Military Association of America has been selected by the Academy of United States Veterans as a nominee for the 6th Annual Veterans Awards.
The winners will be determined through a public vote on the AUS Foundation website that ends March 1. Cast your vote here.
“MMAA has been nominated under the Suicide Prevention category for our continuing support to the LGBTQ+ veteran community,” said Jennifer Dane, Executive Director. “We have a variety of objectives that fit this category, including our flagship Restore Honor, Restore Dignity (RHRD) program.”
Although the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed nearly 10 years ago, there are an estimated 114,000 veterans eligible for a discharge upgrade due to sexual orientation. The RHRD program is tailored specifically for these individuals and uses a trauma-informed care framework to ensure that each service member and veteran feels dignified through the process and has their service honored, often for the first time in their lives.
“This program was started in 1993 as the primary function of MMA’s oldest legacy organization – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and we are proud to continue that legacy today by providing free and direct legal services to the LGBTQ military and veteran community,” said Dane.
To date, the program has assisted more than 9,000 people with records corrections and this success has led to numerous partnerships with state-level Departments of Veteran Affairs, law firms, and non-profits hosting MMAA to provide free legal clinics for individuals interested in pursuing records corrections.
“We have also been the plaintiff organization against the Trump Administration’s trans service and HIV bans, and have represented over 12,500 pro bono legal clients,” said Dane. “Additionally, we have trained over 200 people in LGBTQ cultural competencies, launched a successful magazine highlighting remarkable people and actions, and have continuously stood up against hate and discrimination for our community.”
MMAA was asked by the VA and the governor of Maryland to participate in collaborative challenges which brought together inner agencies and other organizations to discuss what the veteran community is facing and what the various organisations are doing to help. The VA wanted to look at the issue of veteran suicide and MMAA was asked to bring perspectives and expertise on LGBTQ issues for the military and veteran community.
“Bringing those perspectives – the intersectionalities that exist – are critical to how we look at veteran suicide and how we can mitigate that in different realms because there are so many layers,” said Dane. “Those layers create different viewpoints, and we were able to put our views of what we truly believe the VA needs to look at in health and human services to really mitigate veteran suicide and what that looks like to our communities so that we can all be safe, healthy and happy moving forward.”