Even with federal government policy seemingly fluctuating with the whims of the White House, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ( VA ) remains committed to administering the healthcare needs of LGBT patients, according to a VA staff member who spoke Jan. 18 at Center on Halsted about the intricacies of that work.
Lorry Luscriwho is LGBT veteran-care coordinator at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospitalspoke about her position as part of the Center's Trans Talk series. Vanessa Sheridan, the Center's director of transgender programs and community engagement, moderated the talk.
Luscri has been in the LGBT-focused role for about 18 months. She has working with the VA for several years in another full-time capacity, and accepted the additional responsibilities and titles eagerly.
"I never imagined I would be sitting here with a business card that said 'LGBT veteran care coordinator,'" she said.
In her talk, she emphasized her institution's relatively robust commitment to care for its LGBT patients and clients, offering trainings ensuring staff cultural competency, for example, and establishing comprehensive anti-discrimination policies.
Some disparities remained, Luscri admitted, noting that the VA does not pay for sex-reassignment surgeries. Nevertheless, it does pay for services to patients supporting other aspects of their transition, such as speech therapy or physical therapy to help with learning a new gait.
Sheridan is a veteran and noted that she indeed depended on the VA for much of her care, adding, "I have nothing bad to say about my experience with the VA."
Luscri's position prevented her from opining on government policy, but she admitted that news from Washington contributed to uncertainty on the part of staff and patients. She said a large part of her job is reassuring LGBT veterans that they can count on still utilizing VA facilities for their treatment and care. She even predicted "more awareness" around LGBT issues "not just in the VA, but the culture as a whole."