Veterans released under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are eligible for full VA benefits



Veterans who have been released from the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy may be eligible for all Veterans Affairs benefits under new guidelines released Monday.

The announcement comes on the 10th anniversary of President Barack Obama’s repeal of the policy.

In a blog post on the VA website, Kayla Williams, assistant secretary for public affairs in the VA’s Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, said veterans who have been given non-honorable leave because of their same-sex conduct, gender identity or status Serologically “are considered veterans” who may be eligible for all VA benefits. The “discharge other than honorable prevented tens of thousands of veterans from obtaining the full range of services and care.

“LGBTQ + veterans deserve no less the care and services that all veterans gain through their service, and VA is committed to ensuring they have equal access to these services,” wrote Ms. Williams, who is a bisexual veteran.

Those affected by the policy can now enjoy benefits such as secured home loans, compensation and pension, health care, housing assistance and burial allowances, barring any statutory or regulatory issues with their military record.

“While VA recognizes that the trauma caused by the military’s decades-long policy of discriminating against LGBTQ + people cannot be undone in a matter of months, the Biden administration and Secretary McDonough are taking the necessary steps to begin to fight against the pain that such policies have created. Ms. Williams wrote, referring to VA secretary Denis R. McDonough.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was a policy adopted in 1994 under President Bill Clinton that prohibited openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving in the military. The VA reported that the policy led to the discharge of approximately 14,000 service members during the 17 years it was in effect.


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