Veterans discharged from the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy may be eligible for full benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs under new guidelines released on Monday.
The announcement comes on the 10th anniversary of President Barack Obama’s repeal of the policy.
In a blog post on the VA’s website, Kayla Williams, the deputy secretary for public affairs of the VA’s Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, said that veterans who were discharged other than honorable ones based on homosexual behavior, gender identity, or HIV status. status “are considered veterans” who may be eligible for all VA benefits. The “other than honorable” discharge prevented tens of thousands of veterans from receiving the full range of services and care.
“LGBTQ+ veterans are no less worthy of the care and services all veterans deserve through their service, and VA is committed to ensuring they have equal access to those services,” wrote Ms. Williams, a bisexual veteran.
Those affected by the policy may now be eligible for benefits, including guaranteed home loans, compensation and retirement, health care, housing assistance and funeral benefits, subject to any legal or regulatory issue with their military record.
While the VA recognizes that the trauma caused by the military’s decades-long policy of discriminating against LGBTQ+ people cannot be reversed in months, the Biden administration and Secretary McDonough are taking steps to address the pain. that caused such policies. Williams wrote, referring to VA secretary, Denis R. McDonough.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was a policy enacted in 1994 under President Bill Clinton that openly banned gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from serving in the military. The VA reported that the policy resulted in the layoff of an estimated 14,000 military personnel during its 17 years in effect.