EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – On Wednesday, June 19 the VA of El Paso is holding an LGBT Equality Observance Training. It’s pride month and the event is to let LGBT Veterans know they are welcomed and supported.
According to the VA of El Paso, there are more than 70,000 LGBT individuals who serve in the military and about 13% of transgender people are veterans. This event is meant to help make LGBT individuals more comfortable coming to the VA and to help staff gain a better understanding of transgender health.
“Part of getting LGBT individuals to come and access care here is about being visible and saying were not only going to tolerate we are going to warmly accept you and we are doing things here to provide better care for you and we want people to know about that,” said Kyle Erwin the LGBT Care Coordinator.
An Air Force veteran who is part of the LGBT community, Debbie Ledesma served back when the policy was “don’t ask, don’t tell.” A policy put in place back in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton’s Administration and later repealed by President Barack Obama in 2011.
“People who are fighting for our country deserve the care that they need and positively speaking they shouldn’t be afraid,” said Ledesma. “Back then you know it really affected me mentally, you know physically I wasn’t able to be who I was.”
Ledesma said she has felt nothing but acceptance and support from the VA of El Paso and encourages other LGBT Veterans to seek care and council.
Wednesday’s event will be held at 5001 N Piedras St. from noon until 1:30 p.m. All LGBT Veterans are invited to come.