Fayetteville VA Provides Support and Services to LGBTQ Veterans

The Fayetteville Veterans Coastal Health Care System encourages LGBTQ veterans and allies to take advantage of the health-related resources and services offered by the VA.

The Fayetteville VA hosted a pride car parade and drive-thru for LGBTQ veterans and allies on June 21 in celebration of Pride Month.

About 35 participants attended the parade, decorating their vehicles with rainbow flags and balloons and showing their support for LGBTQ veterans. The VA also had information booths, which provided resources and gift bags to veterans and LGBTQ allies in the community.

“LGBT identity is not a mental illness, but discrimination and stigma can lead to mental health symptoms,” said Lori Hall, LGBT Veterans Care Coordinator.

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Veterans who come out describe their experience as liberating and liberating, she said.

“The coming out process is truly unique to each individual, and it is shaped by their level of comfort, their security, the environment they live in, how willing they are to share their sexual orientation and / or identity. kind, ”Hall said. “For many, coming out processes accumulate over and over again throughout their lives.”

“Others will have a hard time deciding whether or not to go out,” she added. “Here at Fayetteville VA we have this LGBT education support group, it’s called Pride in All Who Served, and last year we held it virtually, making it open to everyone. world. It provides a safe space for self-exploration and for some of our veterans this group was the first place they came out.

The pride of all who serve is once a week for 10 weeks for referred veterans. Each week a different topic is taught and discussed, Hall said.

Cindy Corey signs the LGBTQ Pride Board of Directors at the Cars Drive Parade of the Coastal Health Care System in Fayetteville, Va., June 21.

In week three, the group reviews Identity Models, which aim to help LGBTQ VA members grapple with their gender identity.

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Sex refers to the physical characteristics of a person at birth and gender refers to the identity of a person. A person can identify with a gender other than their biological sex.

“The transition is a dynamic journey that differs from veteran to veteran, so the definition of what a full transition means will also differ,” she explained. “Since there is a range of experiences with the transition. Some can make a social, legal and medical transition, others can make a social only transition and some don’t, so it will all depend on what the transition means for the individual.

Community members line up their vehicles in the Fayetteville parking lot on Monday during the Pride car parade and drive-thru.

Social transition, for example, would be a person wearing clothing associated with the specific gender they identify with; a medical transition would be hormone therapy or surgery; and a legal transition would be for someone to change their name to the one that best represents who they are, Hall said.

“LGBT veterans or related identities are at high risk for stress, and that stress can increase the risks of certain mental and physical health issues,” Hall said.

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Positive results can lead to improved quality of life, improved self-esteem, and can also lead to reduced anxiety, depression and substance use, Hall said.

“Eligible veterans can receive all medically necessary care including hormone therapy, they can receive mental health care,” Hall said of transgender veterans. “They receive preoperative assessments for surgery and postoperative and long-term care for follow-up.”

To learn how to apply for VA benefits, visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/.

“It is essential that we send the message that the system is committed to ensuring that LGBT veterans are welcomed, respected and receive culturally appropriate care,” she added.

Health and Education Editor Ariana-Jasmine Castrellon can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3561.

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About Bradley J. Bridges

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