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Celebrating LGBTQ+ veterans in June. Serving and supporting LGBTQ+ veterans every day.
Pride Month is about celebrating and fostering awareness and support for the LGBTQ+ community. While Pride events are held year-round, June commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place on June 28, 1969, in New York City when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village.
The raid sparked a riot among citizens and served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and worldwide. Today, Pride celebrations are important markers that show how far the LGBTQ+ community has come and recognize the continued fight for equality.
Oregon is proud to be one of the leading advocates for equal access and culturally sensitive care for our LGBTQ+ veterans, their family members and loved ones. In 2016, ODVA became the first veteran state agency in the nation to provide dedicated special advocacy to the LGBTQ+ veteran community.
Today, this program assists veterans with discharge upgrades and specializes in claim development that addresses the impacts of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) experiences. With an estimated 2.5% of the veteran population identifying as LGBTQ+, ODVA is a proud ally of this Oregon veteran community and works to build a network of advocates and other allies eager to serve and support Oregon’s LGBTQ+ veterans and their families.
During Pride month, ODVA is celebrating the LGBTQ+ veteran community and the work of ODVA to improve outcomes and gain access to services that all LGBTQ+ veterans have earned, regardless of the era they served in or how they identify.
Throughout the month, we will also profile veterans of the LGBTQ+ community who continued their service as pioneers in advancing policy that counters the unfair treatment they received in service and, through their advocacy, ultimately helped shape the veteran services provided to LGBTQ+ veterans today.
Advocacy is also the purpose and continuing mission of the LGBTQ+ Veteran Program. We understand that some LGBTQ+ veterans may have had bad experiences or were harmed by unfair and unjust policies. We also understand that some may believe or have been told they don’t qualify for benefits or services.
However, ODVA advocates for all veterans, and this is what every LGBTQ+ veteran should know:
- ODVA can assist with Military Records Corrections, including changing your military discharge papers to reflect your current legal name.
- ODVA provides trauma-informed and culturally aware assistance to help access federal and state veteran benefits.
- If you were discharged from service due to your sexual orientation, please contact your local Veteran Service Office or the LGBTQ+ Veteran Coordinator office to talk about the possibility of a discharge upgrade.
- Laws and regulations continue to change. If you or a veteran you know was previously denied benefits, contact your local Veteran Service Office or contact the LGBTQ+ Veteran Coordinator to see if appeals rights exist for you.
ODVA’s LGBTQ+ Veteran Program is here to serve you in learning about and accessing your earned veteran benefits. For assistance or to schedule a consultation appointment contact LGBTQVets@odva.oregon.gov or visit a local Veteran Service Office where county and tribal Veterans Service Officers are available to assist you in your veteran journey.
More information about ODVA’s LGBTQ+ Veteran Program and the Pride events where ODVA will be represented can be found online.