The LGBTQ+ community has a long and proud history of military service. However, until somewhat recently, many LGBTQ+ service members and veterans faced discrimination and/or harassment. In 2011, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy was repealed, which allowed LGBTQ+ people to serve openly in the military. This was a major victory for the LGBTQ+ community, but more than a decade later, we feel that there is still more work to be done.
How can I be an ally for LGBTQ+ military veterans?
- Learn about the history of LGBTQ+ policy changes in the military. This will help you understand the challenges that LGBTQ+ veterans have faced, and how far we have come in terms of acceptance.
- Be an active listener to LGBTQ+ veterans' stories. Let them know that you are there to support them, and that you are interested in learning about their experiences.
- Challenge discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the military. If you see or hear someone making discriminatory remarks, speak up. Let them know that their words are not acceptable.
- Support LGBTQ+ veteran organizations. There are many organizations that provide support to LGBTQ+ veterans (see the list below). You can donate your time or money to help these organizations continue their work.
- Be visible as an ally. Wear attire or a shirt to show your support, and/or use your social media to show your support for LGBTQ+ people. This can help to create a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ veterans.
Being an ally to LGBTQ+ military veterans shows that you value their service and their contributions and sacrifice for our country, especially because there may have been times when their ability to serve was questioned or they faced discrimination. Supporting ALL veterans creates a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.
What are some organizations that support LGBTQ+ Military & Veterans?
There are a number of organizations that provide support and resources to LGBTQ+ military and veterans. These organizations offer a variety of services, including:
- Advocacy: These organizations work to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ military veterans and to ensure that they have access to the same benefits and services as their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.
- Support: These organizations provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ military veterans to connect with others, share their experiences, and get the support they need.
- Education: These organizations educate the public about the experiences of LGBTQ+ military veterans and the challenges they face.
Here are a few of the most well-known LGBTQ+ organizations for military veterans:
- Modern Military Association of America: Modern Military was formed when the American Military Partner Association and OutServe-SLDN merged. The Modern Military Association of America is the nation’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to advancing fairness and equality for the LGBTQ+ military and veteran community. They strive to make a positive difference in the lives of of LGBTQ+ servicemembers, military spouses, veterans, family members, survivors, and caregivers through advocacy, support and education. They’ve published a resource guide here.
- American Veterans for Equal Rights: American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ+ veterans. AVER provides a variety of services to LGBTQ+ veterans, including advocacy, support, and education.
PFLAG: They offer monthly virtual, moderated monthly meetings, in partnership with MMAA for parents, family members, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are also part of the military community to connect them with resources and support.
- Transgender American Veterans Association: The Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) is a non-profit organization that provides support and resources to transgender veterans. TAVA also works to educate the public about the experiences of transgender veterans.
- Military One Source: Military One Source supports service members and families in a variety of ways. They offer free non-medical counseling and support services. . Service members can connect with a counselor by calling 800-342-9647 in the US and outside the continental United States, may use one of these calling options.
In addition to these organizations, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a number of programs and services specifically designed for LGBTQ+ veterans, including:
- Veterans Health Administration (VHA): The VHA provides healthcare to veterans. The VHA has a number of programs and services specifically designed for LGBTQ+ veterans, such as the LGBTQ+ Health Program.
- Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA): The VBA provides a variety of benefits to those who’ve served in our nation’s military. The VBA has a number of programs and services specifically designed for LGBTQ+ veterans, such as survivor benefits that were previously unavailable.
If you are an LGBTQ+ military veteran, please know that we are here to support you and there are a number of organizations and resources available to you. You are not alone.