Recognizing LGBT Pride Month

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VA offers respectful health care and housing services for transgender Veterans

John Blosnich and Dezyrae

VA recognizes that Veterans are composed of diverse populations with unique needs and is committed to serving all with dignity and respect. June marks LGBT Pride month and provides an opportunity to shine a light on how VA supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Here we focus on Veterans who identify as transgender.

Research conducted by John Blosnich (pictured above), Research Affiliate with the National Center on Homelessness among Veterans, shows that transgender Veterans who receive health care from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) are three times more likely to be homeless than non-transgender Veterans receiving care. To date, more than 9,000 transgender Veterans have received services from VHA, and the number is increasing.

Many transgender individuals face significant social stressors such as stigmatization, family rejection, discrimination, marginalization, unemployment, and violence, putting them at higher risk for housing instability and homelessness. Dr. Blosnich also found that transgender Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness are more likely than their non-transgender peers to use VHA’s housing programs, especially .Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) and Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).

Homelessness and housing instability do not occur in a vacuum. A program like SSVF strives to help Veterans with the issues that cause or result from their housing insecurity or homelessness, such as finding a job, getting help with legal problems, securing childcare, and paying for transportation. As one transgender Veteran put it: It's not just one thing with housing instability: when it rains,it pours."

To ensure that all Veterans receive compassionate, evidence-based health care services and housing programs consistent with their self-identified gender, VA put two health care policies into place—a directive for transgender Veterans and a directive for Veterans who identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual. Since March 2016, every VA medical center has had a designated LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator who works with staff to ensure that all Veterans know immediately that they are expected and welcome when they walk through the door.

“Nationally, VA is a leader in high-quality, patient-driven, personalized LGBT care,” says Dawnelle Paldino, LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. “We really strive to provide care in an environment that is respectful to the Veteran.”

More than 75 interdisciplinary teams of providers have participated in intensive case-based teleconferencing training, and 517 providers have received e-consultation services to ensure transgender Veterans receive high-quality care. Through these efforts, 58 VA medical centers were designated as LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leaders and 26 as Top Performers on the 2019 Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).     

To learn more about the Center’s research and VHA’s programs for LGBT Veterans, view the Transgender Veterans and Homelessness infographic that highlights current data.

Transgender Veterans and Homelessness infographic


More information 

  • Read VHA Directive 1340 and 1341 that discusses VHA’s policy for the equitable, respectful, and affirming delivery of clinically appropriate health care to LGBT Veterans
  • Visit or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-4AID VET (877-424-3838) for more information on how to help transgender Veterans exit or avoid homelessness.
  • Visit VA’s Homeless Veterans website to learn about employment initiatives and other programs for Veterans exiting homelessness.