June is Pride month and the St. Cloud V.A. wants to remind veterans of the services they offer to support all who have served in the military and who are eligible for services.  LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator Dr. Stephany Himrich (Psychology) and Public Affairs Officer Barry Venable from the St. Cloud V.A. joined me on WJON.

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Himrich indicates they are in their LGBTQ national pride campaign which is titled "Why Pride Counts at the V.A."  She says there are approximately 20 million veterans in the U.S. and 1 million are estimated to identify as lesbian, gas or bisexual and 140,000 identify as transgender.

Himrich says her goal is to support a healthy supportive environment at the St. Cloud V.A. and veterans in the LGBTQ community get the services they deserve.  She explains the V.A. cares about everyone's health and strives to create relationships where patients can trust their providers.

Himrich acknowledges a long history of bias against LGBTQ veterans dating back to 1942 when the DOD banned sexual minorities from joining the military, then there was the "don't ask don't tell policy" that was recently repealed in 2011.  She indicates the majority of LGBTQ veterans have preferred to receive their care from outside the VA Medical Center because they may be concerned with receiving affirmative health care within the VA system.  Himrich says it makes sense that there would be a lack of trust based on past history.  She explains it is her and other's jobs to earn and keep that trust today.

If you'd like to listen to my conversation on our Voices for Veterans program on WJON with Stephany Himrich and Barry Venable it is available below.



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