Why was Rainbow Shield created?
In our work, we have seen a lack of understanding and resources available to community service providers and advocates, which has only worsened with the increase in discriminatory policies based on misinformation and harmful stereotypes. LGBTQ and HIV+ service members, veterans and their families feel unsafe or discouraged from seeking services or support, including the care and benefits they have earned and desperately need. Unfortunately, many in this community have experienced discrimination or harassment in settings where they expect their vulnerability to be met with compassion, and nearly all have a loved one who has had an experience like this.
On the other side, we have heard from many service providers and advocates who want their clients from the LGBTQ and HIV+ military and veteran community to feel respected and supported, but don’t have access to the resources or training to make that a reality. Rainbow Shield provides the resources necessary to bridge this gap in culturally resilient services and demonstrates the positive impact that comes from recognizing and celebrating our differences.
Who can become certified?
Any individual who serves or advocates for the LGBTQ and HIV+ military and veteran community can seek certification. This includes, but is not limited to, educators, health care providers, military leaders, Veteran Service Officers (VSOs), social workers, homeless and domestic violence shelter providers, lawyers and paralegals, policymakers and administrators.
MMAA also provides organization-wide trainings outside of the certification context through our Advancing Care through Education (ACE) program. Individuals interested in organization-wide trainings are encouraged to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-328-3244.
What does it mean to be certified?
Being certified through the Rainbow Shield program means a service provider or advocate has been trained by our staff and participates in at least one yearly continuing education training. Individuals who are certified through our Rainbow Shield program: (1) gain the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to support all of their clients regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or serostatus; (2) have the option to be featured in our national directory; (3) have the option of placing the Rainbow Shield certification graphic in their office or on their website; and (4) have access to the most up-to-date information on issues and events in the LGBTQ and HIV+ military and veteran community through our Rainbow Shield newsletter.
What is expected of Rainbow Shield certified individuals?
By becoming certified, individuals commit to implementing the information from the trainings to improve their workplaces and their interactions to better serve LGBTQ and HIV+ service members, veterans and their families. This information is meant to be practiced to increase access and quality of services for all. Certified individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Rainbow Shield community and MMAA with questions about best practices, creating trauma-informed spaces or making paperwork inclusive, among other topics.
I have questions that weren’t covered in the trainings, and/or I’m not sure how to apply the information from the trainings to a specific situation. Where can I get answers?
Individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Rainbow Shield community forum, where you can ask questions and get answers from fellow certified individuals as well as MMAA staff and volunteers who are experts on serving the LGBTQ and HIV+ military and veteran community. Please note that the community forum includes a set of guidelines that includes following all laws and policies necessary to protect a client’s privacy and proprietary information.
If you prefer to ask speak directly with our education department, we are happy to discuss your questions over email or over the phone.