VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veteran Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA) is committed to providing quality care to all Veterans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Veterans. Excellent care has no boundaries.
VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System seeks to promote the health, welfare, and dignity of LGBT Veterans and their families. We are committed to making sensitive and high quality health care accessible. Our policies and practices focus on ensuring a safe, welcoming, and affirmative environment of care for LGBT Veterans. Our employees receive training in clinically competent care that is responsive to the unique needs of LGBT Veterans.
Welcome home LGBT Veterans and thank you for your service! The VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System offers a variety of programs to create a health care system that is responsive to the particular needs of LGBT patients and staff by building upon the unique strengths of LGBT culture. We recognize that diverse populations have distinctive needs, and we train our staff in culturally and clinically competent care for LGBT Veterans.
You Are Not Alone
America is home to an estimated one million LGBT service members and Veterans, who have served the US military with honor and distinction.
With the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and federal agencies from the Pentagon to the VA observing Gay Pride Month, opportunities abound for new developments in LGBT Veteran health care. We hope you choose VASNHCS and join our growing team of Veterans and staff to create a LGBT Veteran community and health care system in this exciting time of social advancement!
Resources for Veterans:
LGBT Veterans are invited to participate in a LGBT Veteran Support Group to meet other LGBT Veterans and enjoy a supportive environment to give and receive support from peers.
For more information, please call our LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator Cathleen "Caitlin" Firestone at 775-785-7227 or our LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (Alternate) Tina Nielsen at 775-789-6613.
Resources for Staff:
LGBT VA staff and heterosexual allies are invited to participate in the LGBT Staff and Allies Special Emphasis Program of the Equal Employment Opportunity Office. The goals of this group are:
- To train VASNHCS staff about LGBT Veteran Health Care and Policies,
- Raise awareness about LGBT Veterans and staff at VASNHCS,
- Provide support and social opportunities for LGBT staff, and
- Increase enrollment at VASNHCS among LGBT Veterans and employment among LGBT staff.
LGBT Employee Recruitment Efforts:
The LGBT Staff and Allies Special Emphasis Program is actively involved in the recruitment of LGBT employees to VASNHCS through outreach at LGBT employment fairs in the community and pride festivals in Reno since 2013.
Some Veterans just want to learn more about what LGBT-related services and supports are available. We can provide consultation directly to Veterans and to providers in those cases. Every Veteran has the right NOT to be “outed” as LGBT in their medical record by any provider. Our providers know that gender expression, identity, and sexuality can be personal issues, especially for our Veterans. Each Veteran has the right to decide what works best. We encourage very open and collaborative conversations with your health care providers about this personal choice.
The LGBT Staff and Allies Special Emphasis Program is actively involved in the recruitment of LGBT Veterans and distribution of information about VA health care services available through outreach at community events, round table community discussions, pride festivals and parades.
Relevant Policies and Services
Non-discrimination: Our non-discrimination policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (actual or perceived) (VHA Directive 1019).
Visitation: VASNHCS allows for a same-sex partner, family member, friend, or other individual to be present with the patient for emotional support during the course of their stay. Same-sex partners are recognized as the patient’s family, even if the parties are not legally married.
Advanced Directives: Patients may designate any person as a decision-maker for care should they become unable to make these decisions. This includes designating a same-sex partner as a surrogate decision-maker. Advanced Directives agents are chosen by the Veteran and do not need to be biologically related.
Documentation in Medical Records: VASNHCS maintains the confidentiality of information about sexual orientation and sexual behavior, as it does with all other private health information.
Changing Your Name and/or Gender in Your Medical Record: Your name in the medical record will reflect your legal name. You have the right to request that name and gender are updated as appropriate. There are established procedures for changing your name and gender, available from the VASNHCS Privacy Officer at 775-328-1473.
Concerns and/or Complaints: If you feel you are not being provided with compassionate care at VASNHCS, we encourage you to make your concerns are known. Concerns regarding a specific Service (e.g., Mental Health, Primary Care) should be directed to the corresponding contact person for that Service. This information can be easily found on this website through the Services page.
LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) Program
As of March 2016, each VA facility has a local LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) who is appointed by their facility leadership. The VCC is responsible for promoting best practices for serving LGBT Veterans and connecting LGBT Veterans to services.
To learn important information about the unique health risks of LGBT Veterans, download these relevant fact sheets. Here you can also find information about relevant services offered by VA.