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LGBTQ+ Veteran care

VA Albany health care employees receive training in clinical care that is responsive to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ Veterans. Our trained LGBTQ+ Veteran care coordinators are fully equipped to support the health, welfare, and dignity of you and your family.

2022 HEI Top Performer - Stratton VA

Connect with a care coordinator

Tricia Kidder, LCSW, CCM

Tricia Kidder LCSW, CCM

LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator; Social Work Section Chief

VA Albany health care

Phone: 518-626-6693

Email: Patricia.Kidder@va.gov

Care we provide at VA Albany health care

We promote the health, welfare, and dignity of Veterans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) or a related identity.  As a result of stigma, stress, and discrimination, LGBTQ+ Veterans face increased health risks and unique challenges in health care. We want you to be comfortable talking with your VA providers about all aspects of your life, so we can offer you the best care possible. We focus on ensuring a safe, welcoming, and affirmative environment when providing you with sensitive and high-quality health care services like:

  • Mental health services, including psychosocial assessments for hormone therapy and gender confirming surgeries
  • Creative arts therapies
  • Gender-affirming prosthetics
  • Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy
  • Substance use/alcohol treatment
  • Tobacco use treatment
  • Treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for Veterans at risk for HIV.
  • Intimate partner violence reduction and treatment of after effects
  • Military Sexual Trauma screening and treatment of after effects
  • Suicide prevention services. If you are in crisis, PLEASE call the 24-hour Crisis Hotline at 988 option 1 or visit the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Heart health/Whole Health
  • Cancer screening, prevention and treatment
  • Infertility: VA is committed to helping Veterans navigate challenges that may arise from issues with fertility and the conception of a child.
  • Other prevention, screening, wellness, and testing services

Learn about health risks and why you should talk to your provider about your sexual orientation identity, birth sex, and self-identified gender identity in the fact sheets below.

Policies and practices to know

The care coordinator can help you get started with care or with navigating any of these issues.

Advance directives

Veterans may designate any person as a decision-maker for care if they won't be able to make these decisions themselves. This includes same-sex partners. Advance directive agents are chosen by the Veteran and do not need to be biologically related.

Changing your name or sex identifier in your records

Your name in your medical record will reflect your legal name. The sex in your medical record should reflect your self-identified gender. You have the right to request that your name and sex are updated as appropriate. There are established procedures for changing your name and sex with the VA Privacy Officer.

Confidentiality

It is VHA policy that all staff members, including medical and administrative staff, treat as confidential any information about a Veteran’s gender identity, sexual orientation, attractions, and sexual behavior.

Definition of family

"Family" may include individual(s) not legally related to the individual. Family members include spouses, domestic partners, different-sex and same-sex significant others.

Gender-affirming surgery

VA Begins Action to Allow for Gender-Affirming Surgeries in VA Health Care Coverage

VA currently provides all medically necessary gender-affirming care to transgender Veterans with the exception of gender-affirming surgical interventions, due to an exclusion in the VA medical benefits package. The LGBTQ+ Health Program is pleased to share that in the summer 2021, VA will be initiating the rulemaking process to modify the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to expand VA’s care to transgender Veterans to include gender-affirming surgery.

1.  VA currently provides all medically necessary gender-affirming care to transgender Veterans with the exception of gender-affirming surgical interventions, due to an exclusion in the VA medical benefits package.

2.  Gender-affirming procedures have been proven effective at mitigating serious health conditions, including suicidality, substance abuse, and dysphoria.

3.  Removing this exclusion would allow VA to provide transgender and gender diverse Veterans with coordinated, medically necessary, transition-related surgical procedures. In addition, revising the medical benefits package would enable a safe, coordinated continuum of care that is Veteran-centric and consistent with VA’s values of equity and respect for all Veterans.

4.  The entire rulemaking process can take approximately two years and includes a period of public comment. This will allow VA to develop the framework to provide the full continuum of care in a way that is consistent with VA’s rigorous standards for quality health care.

5.  During the rulemaking process, VA will continue to provide or pay for the services it currently offers, including corrective procedures after gender affirming surgeries a Veteran obtains outside VA, hormone therapy, and other gender affirming care.
FAQs: Removing “Gender Alterations” Exclusion from the VA Medical Benefits Package - (PDF)

Nondiscrimination and environment free from harassment

Albany VAMC does not tolerate harassment or disrespect of any kind towards LGBT employees and/or Veterans. The LGBT VCC, Patient Advocate, and Ethics Consultation Service are available for staff and Veterans to bring concerns about interactions that are disrespectful, biased, or discriminatory.

Preferred pronouns

It is VHA policy that we refer to LGBT Veterans by their preferred gender pronoun in CPRS documentation (and when speaking of Veterans, even when they are not in our presence).

Privacy and medical records

VA Albany maintains the confidentiality of information about sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and gender identity, just like any other private health information.

Visitation

A same-sex partner, family member, friend, or other individual can be present with the patient for emotional support during the course of the patient's stay.

Resources and Support  

Learn about what is available for LGBTQ+ Veterans who have faced challenges related to coming out or are unsure what services they are eligible for at VA.