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LGBTQ+ Veteran care

VA Houston 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.

Connect with a care coordinator

VA doctor

Hiram Rivera-Mercado, PsyD

LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator

VA Houston health care

Phone: 281-217-9028

Email: hiram.rivera-mercado@va.gov

VA doctor

Mallorie Carroll, PhD

LGBTQ+ CBOC Care Coordinator

VA Houston health care

Phone: 281-796-2849

Email: mallorie.carroll@va.gov

Care we provide at VA Houston

We promote the health, welfare, and dignity of Veterans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) or a related identity. 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
  • Hormone therapy
  • Gender-affirming prosthetics
  • HIV and STI testing, counseling, and care, including PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for Veterans at risk for HIV
  • Other prevention, screening, wellness, and testing services

Support Groups

VA Houston’s LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator team and Whole Health have partnered to offer classes supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Veterans’ well-being and personal development. These classes are virtual and open to all Veterans.

Pride and Courage: 75-minute group providing education and support to all Veterans identifying as LGBTQ+. The focus of this group is supporting all LGBTQ+ Veterans in living their fullest lives as their authentic selves.

When: Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Where: Zoom platform, by referral
How to Join: Contact Hiram Rivera-Mercado, PsyD at 281-217-9028 or Hiram.Rivera-Mercado@va.gov

Gender Group: 60-minute group providing education and supporting ongoing personal development for transgender and gender-diverse Veterans. This group incorporates elements of Whole Health to support Veterans in connecting with and caring for themselves, and in living their lives in alignment with what matters most to them.

Whole Health Topics  

  • Week 1: Family, friends, and co-workers; Sprit and Soul; Surroundings (Support Group) 

Weeks 1 and 3 will be a support group format where group member share updates, ask for feedback/questions from the group, and we will talk about various relevant topics.

  • Week 2: Personal Development; Power of the Mind (Presenter)

Week 2 we will have various presenters covering a wide range of gender affirming interventions/topics including surgery, legal aid, make-up, prosthetics, speech therapy, etc.

  • Week 3:  Family, friends, and co-workers; Sprit and Soul; Surroundings (Support Group)  

Weeks 1 and 3 will be a support group format where group member share updates, ask for feedback/questions from the group, and we will talk about various relevant topics.

  • Week 4: Moving the body; Food and drink; Recharge (Presenter)

Week 4 we will also have presenters but these presenters will be focused more on physical health so we will have some yoga sessions, dieticians, review of sleep habits, and mindfulness

When: Thursdays, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: VVC platform, by referral
How to Join: Contact Mallorie Carroll, PhD at 281-796-2849 or Mallorie.Carroll@va.gov.

View more Whole Health classes and groups

Policies and practices to know

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

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.

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.

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.

Documentation in medical records: VA Houston maintains the confidentiality of information about sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and gender identity, just like any other private health information.

Changing name or sex in 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.

Fact Sheets

Discharge Upgrade for LGBTQ+ and/or HIV positive Veterans

If you were other-than-honorably discharged due to your sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV-status under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy, then you may be eligible for VA benefits. How to Apply for a Discharge Upgrade

More Resources