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Care for LGBTQ+ Veterans

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VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System is honored to serve all who served, including LGBTQ+ Veterans.

LGBTQ+ refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identities. The “+” stands for identities beyond LGBTQ that may not fit into a traditional category of sexuality or gender.

LGBTQ+ Veterans may experience stress, stigma and discrimination throughout life and during military service from issues such as:

  • Having to hide sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Experiencing negative responses when coming out.
  • Losing a job.
  • Being victimized.

These experiences can impact a person’s health. Research shows LGBTQ+ Veterans have higher rates of certain medical and mental health conditions including a higher risk for suicide. VA understands the needs of LGBTQ+ Veterans and has developed directives guiding care.

VA’s policies protect LGBTQ+ Veterans’ rights. Our non-discrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

To provide the best care, health care providers should know if a Veteran is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or related identity. This helps providers ask the right questions and perform the correct testing and screening. Any Veteran who wants to be called a name other than their legal name on record can add a preferred name in their chart. Veterans can also have their birth sex and their self-identified gender identity in their record. 

VA LGBTQ+ sensitive services include but are not limited to:

  • Physical and mental health care
  • Creative arts therapy
  • Voice and communication training
  • Assessments for hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries
  • Gender-affirming prosthetics
  • Hormone therapy
  • Laser hair removal
  • HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing and counseling
  • Provision of PrEp (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for Veterans at risk for HIV
  • HIV care and services
  • Additional prevention, screening, wellness and testing services

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) cannot provide or pay for gender-affirming surgery. VHA can provide medically necessary pre-operative care, post-operative care and letters of support. VA is in the process of removing this exception. Once the rulemaking process is complete (at least two years), VA will provide medically necessary gender-affirming surgery.

VA Pittsburgh has two LGBTQ+ Veteran care coordinators (VCCs). VCCs can help connect LGBTQ+ Veterans with VA and community resources and services, advocate for their needs, and handle any concerns regarding their care at VA. They also help to support and train staff, participate in events, and help to make VA Pittsburgh a safe and welcoming environment for all Veterans.

VA Pittsburgh LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinators:

Kristen Lyons
Social Worker
412-360-6645
Kristen.lyons@va.gov

Dr. Dawnelle Paldino
Psychologist
412-360-1210
Dawnelle.paldino@va.gov

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