Takano, Pappas Statement on New VA Directive to Provide Unfairly Denied Benefits to LGBTQ+ Veterans
Jenni Geurink (Takano)| 202.819.4684
Kristen Morris (Pappas)| 603.260.3314
Washington, DC. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) made the following statements to applaud VA’s new directive that will ensure LGBTQ+ veterans—including the thousands of veterans who were discharged during Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—can finally access the care and benefits they’ve earned. This announcement comes on the tenth anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and days before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations legislative hearing where Chairman Takano’s Commission on LGBTQ Servicemembers and Veterans Act and Chair Pappas’ Securing the Rights our Veterans have Earned or SERVE Act will be discussed. Both bills will help ensure VA is welcoming to all veterans regardless of sexuality or gender identity.
“With today’s announcement, VA is sending a clear message that LGBTQ+ veterans’ service matters and that VA acknowledges the long lasting effects that the draconian Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy had,” said Chairman Takano.“On the tenth anniversary of its repeal, VA has opened its doors widely to all veterans who were unfairly denied the care and benefits they earned because of their sexuality or gender identity. This new announcement is a tremendous first step, but there is still more work to do to rebuild the trust of LGBTQ+ veterans and ensure they can fully access their earned VA care and benefits. With our bills to create a commission for LGBTQ servicemembers and veterans and to secure much-needed benefits, we can continue the necessary work to reckon with the injustices these servicemembers faced, provide a space for healing, and ensure VA is welcoming for all.”
“It’s welcome news that VA announced a new directive today to start the process of correcting the double standard that has long persisted for LGBTQ+ servicemembers and veterans. It’s past time these veterans are afforded the benefits they’ve rightfully earned defending our country,” said Congressman Pappas. “However we can’t forget just four years ago President Trump banned transgender servicemembers from serving in our Armed Forces, and this new directive can be reversed by subsequent administrations. Passing the SERVE Act will ensure these changes become permanent, and that LGBTQ+ servicemembers and veterans and their VA benefits are protected by law. As we commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and celebrate the freedom of LGBTQ+ servicemembers to serve openly following its repeal, I remain committed to pushing this legislation forward to honor the service of all those who put their lives on the line for our country, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
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