Monday, May 26, 2014

Saluting Memorial Day 2014

Got You Six!!
It's Memorial Day 2014 and the work the continue as we honor and salute our troops stateside and abroad. Enjoy the day and watch for updates, links and so much more from COP 24/7. 
We salute the men and women who have offered their service to our nation as defenders of freedom and the countries movement toward full inclusion of all of its citizens.
This forum has been as alarmed and outraged to the now publicly acknowledged issues and challenges that our service men and women have encountered at some VA locations across the country. This situation is totally unacceptable especially as more theater's of war are scaled down with many more service people returning seeking care and other services. Although there are numerous social determinants that are affecting our veteran population.
We at COP 24/7 are also equally aware that nationally, 23,463 HIV infected Veterans were in VHA care in 2008 according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It is imperative that we understand that although the number of HIV infected Veterans in VHA care has changed little over the past several years, there has been a geographic shift in their distribution.

Furthermore, we know that just over 50% of the Veteran population with HIV/AIDS received care in the South. Demographically the majority of HIV infected Veterans in care are men (97%); nonetheless, the VHA provides care to a substantial number (over 600) of HIV infected women.

The agency also cites that In 2008, Blacks comprised half of the VHA HIV infected population (50%), a substantially greater proportion than the overall Veteran population of which 11% is Black.

Seven percent of HIV infected Veterans identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino which is only slightly higher than the six percent of the overall VHA population that is Hispanic. Less than 1% of HIV infected Veterans in VHA care are American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

We honor those for their service and encourage that currently reported VA issues and challenges concerning health care of these citizens receives the full throated attention it deserves and demands of our government officials

Honor Their Sacrifices, Lift the Transgender Ban

On Memorial Day we honor and reflect on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, including transgender service members who gave their lives while having to serve in silence. On this day, we are asking that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel honor these brave people — and those who serve today and in the future — to remove the dishonorable ban that bars transgender people from serving in the military.

Currently there are over 15,145 transgender personnel who currently serve in active, Guard, and reserve components of the military. Transgender individuals are twice as likely to serve in the military as non-trans individuals. These transgender people are forced to hide in the closet, as current military medical codes bar transgender people from serving in the military. Yet a recent commission which included former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders found that there was “no compelling medical reason” that transgender people should be barred from serving.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has also recently called for a re-examination of the ban on transgender service. In an interview on May 11, Hagel stated that “I’m open to those assessments, because — again, I go back to the bottom line — every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.”

We urge Secretary Hagel to lift the ban immediately. It is time for us to finish the job that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell left unfinished. Today, for Memorial Day, it’s time to make sure transgender people are honored with the same respect as every other service member who has made great sacrifices for our country. Please, take a moment today to honor our transgender service members by reading our blog post and sharing it.

Kylar Broadus signature
Kylar Broadus, Senior Policy Counsel and Director of the Trans Civil Rights Project
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

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