WASHINGTON D.C. – The Modern Military Association of America applauds Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough’s announcement on actions the VA will be taking to better support LGBTQ+ veterans, June 19.

“Today, I am so proud to say that Americans of all gender and sexual identities now have the freedom to serve, and although there is still much work to be done, and the vestiges of bigotry remain, I am encouraged by the progress that’s been made,” said McDonough. “And here at VA, we are determined to continue down that path of progress.”

In his public address, McDonough states several steps the VA will be taking to follow through on promises to deliver more inclusive care for all veterans.

“I am announcing today that we are, for the first time, initiating the rulemaking process to expand VA’s care to include gender confirmation surgeries ­– thus allowing transgender Vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side,” said McDonough.

McDonough also announced efforts to create safer and more caring environments for LGBTQ+ veterans in all VA hospitals.

“Due in part to minority stress, LGBTQ+ Veterans experience mental illness and suicidal thoughts at far higher rates than those outside their community, but they are significantly less likely to seek routine care ­­– largely because they fear discrimination,” said McDonough. “And at VA, we’re doing everything in our power to show Veterans of all sexual orientations and gender identities that they can talk openly, honestly, and comfortably with their health care providers about any issues they may be experiencing.”

MMAA is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit organization supporting LGBTQ+ service members, veterans, families and allies, and the Executive Director, Jennifer Dane, has responded to the VA’s inclusion initiatives.

“It takes more than words to make true progress and we are thrilled to hear Secretary McDonough’s announcement that the VA is expanding care to include gender confirmation surgery and updating health services to be more inclusive. These are clear examples of turning words into actions, the only way we can keep marching forward,” said Dane.

“Repealing the ban on transgender military service was one more step forward in the long battle for inclusion in the DoD and VA, but not the last. Now both departments must remain fully committed to these inclusive actions by delivering the healthcare and support services all military members and veterans require, regardless of how they identify.”