Military Background Inspires Student’s Project to Serve Veterans

As one of the few African-American females to serve in the U.S. Marines, Pacific University public health major Irisa Grimes ’17 is acutely aware of both the inherent and overt challenges minority populations face. As such, she is committed to advocating for those most vulnerable, including a subset of fellow military veterans who struggle to utilize available health services because of fear and apprehension. More than 21 percent of all adults in the United States who identify as transgender are current or former military members. And despite a 14-year-old Department of Veterans Affairs mandate that affirms the rights of transgender vets to receive non-discriminatory care, many entitled to VA benefits don’t pursue them because of their own inhibitions and a seeming lack of culturally competent care providers, Grimes said.

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