John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan
John D. Dingell, VA Medical Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veteran Care Program
Welcome LGBT Veterans!
The Detroit VA Healthcare System is proud and committed to serve Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Veterans in an open, supportive, and safe environment. America is home to an estimated one million LGBT service members and Veterans who have served in the U.S. military with honor and distinction. Our LGBT Veterans have unique health care needs, and our staff is dedicated to providing the most respectful health care environment possible. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) strives to be a national leader in the provision of health care to LGBT Veterans, and assures that care is provided in a sensitive and safe environment at VA facilities nationwide. Here are some informative links highlighting LGBT Veteran healthcare issues:
Veteran Care Coordinator
Under the Veteran Health Administration's National LGBT Program, each VA Health Care System is required to have an LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) available to assist LGBT Veterans navigate the VA health care system, offer community resources, and facilitate LGBT Veteran programs. The LGBT VCC also serves as point of contact, source of information, advocate, and general problem-solver for LGBT Veteran-related health care issues.
Detroit VA employee and Veteran Mark Cox, is the LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-576-1683, and for Veterans, via MyHealtheVet secure messaging.
Detroit VA is recruiting LGBT Veterans to initiate recurrent support groups. Please reach out to the LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator, listed above, if you or someone you know is interested in participating in a Veteran-led LGBT support group.
Non-discrimination: Our non-discrimination policy has specific language that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression (actual or perceived). Please see the link below for more information on the National VA policy on patient non-discrimination.
Visitation: The Detroit VA System allows for same-sex spouse/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 partners are not legally married. Please see the link below for the National VA policy on equal visitation.
Advanced Directives: Patients may designate any person as a decision-maker for care should you become unable to make these decision yourself. This includes designating a same-sex partner as a surrogate decision maker. Advanced Directive agents are chosen by the Veteran and do not need to be biologically related.
Resources for Detroit VA Medical Center Veterans
The VA leads the country in HIV/AIDS screening, testing, treatment, research, and prevention including prescriptions for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PReP) to eligible Veterans. Please talk with your primary care provider about PReP. We have an HIV Coordinator and Social Worker, Onelia Zurbruegg, who provides support to HIV+ Veterans, their family members, and partners including a weekly social/support group; she can be reached at (313) 576-3498, or via email at Onelia.Zurbruegg2@va.gov. Veterans in high-risk categories for contracting HIV, including men who have sex with men, and transgender women, should be aware that Michigan has an HIV Criminalization Law: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mihivlaws_49845_7.pdf The VA currently does not provide anonymous HIV testing, and the Detroit VA currently provides positive HIV test results and Veterans’ personal identifiable information to the State of Michigan. Accordingly, Veterans should consider contacting Affirmations (http://www.goaffirmations.org/), the largest LGBT organization in the metro-Detroit area, or a private doctor to request anonymous HIV testing.
The Detroit VA has a Women’s Clinic that provides health care for lesbians, bisexual, and transgender women. Brenda Finney is the Director of our Women’s Clinic and can be reached at (313) 576-5955, or via email at Brenda.Finney@va.gov.
The VA has a policy to provide respectful delivery of health care to transgender and intersex Veterans which includes use of self-identified name and pronoun, documentation of sex and gender identity (SI/GI) in the computerized patient reporting system (CPRS), hormone therapy, and pre/post-surgery medical care. VHA Directive 2013-003: Providing Health Care for Transgender and Intersex Veterans details access to care for transgender and intersex Veterans including a Frequently Asked Questions section. Topics include prevalence, definition of terms, and clarification about services that are covered under the Directive. Read VHA Directive 2013-003.
The Detroit VA also provides a variety of mental health and counseling services for our LGBT Veterans. These services include both individual psychotherapy and group therapy for Veterans identifying as LGBT, and/or questioning. Additional services include family and couples therapy for LGBT Veterans. Counseling is available for Veterans wanting to explore their sexual orientation, gender identity and for transition-related concerns. To find out more information regarding LGBT mental health services, please contact our mental health clinic staff at (313) 576-1000, ext.64201.
Documentation in Medical Records: You have the right NOT to be “outed” as LGBT in your medical record by any provider. We know that gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation can be personal issues. Each Veteran has the right to decide what works best. You can ask your health care provider to list your sex identity (SI) and gender identity (GI) in your medical records. The Detroit VA maintains confidentiality of information about sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual behavior, as it does with other private health information, according to law.
Concerns and/or Complaints
If you feel you are not being provided with compassionate care at the Detroit VA, we encourage you to make your concerns 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 found on this website through the Services page. In addition, you are encouraged to discuss your concerns with the Patient Advocate. If you would like a copy of the memo on processing EEO complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity, please let your health care provider know so they can obtain a copy for you. If you have any questions or concerns that are not about a specific Service Line, please contact Mark Cox, LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator, at (313) 576-1000 x1683.
VA does not endorse external links and is not responsible for the content of any non-VA links.
American Veterans for Equal Rights
The American Military Partner Association
Service Women’s Action Network
The Gay Military Signal
Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund
International Foundation for Gender Education
CDC LGBT Health Page
American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts for Gay and Bisexual Men
American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts for Lesbian and Bisexual Women
National Association for Mental Health GLBT Resources
10 Things Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transgender Persons Should Discuss With Their Healthcare Provider
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Center for Transgender Equality
Traveler Information for Transgender Travelers from the TSA
LGBT Veteran Website Listings
Community Resources for Trans* Veterans
LGBT Caregivers - This presentation focuses attention on the unique experience and challenges of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Veterans and their LGBT Caregivers
Transgender American Veteran Association
The National Lesbian Health Organization
OutServe Service Members Legal Defense Network
American Veterans for Equal Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
SAGE - Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders
Human Rights Campaign
The National LGBT Health Education Center
The Department of Health and Human Services LGBT
Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Provider Directory
VA Office of Patient Care Services LGBT Programs
VHA's Policies & Commitment to Serving Transgender, Transsexual & Intersex Veterans
VA Office of Diversity & Inclusion LGBT Program
VHA Policy on Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity & Inclusion