LGBTQ Veterans Discharged for Sexual Orientation to Receive VA Benefits

In Summary

On the 10 year anniversary of the repeal of "Don't ask, Don't tell," military service members who were other than honorably discharged could receive full benefits, including access to medical care and compensation. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that LGBTQ veterans who were other than honorably discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation are now eligible to receive full benefits.   

The news comes on the 10th anniversary of the repeal of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy, which prevented LGBTQ service members from serving in the military if they were open about their sexual orientation. The policy was put into place in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton.   

“LGBTQ+ Veterans are not any less worthy of the care and services that all Veterans earn through their service, and VA is committed to making sure that they have equal access to those services,” the VA’s office said in a statement.   

According to the department, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” resulted in over 14,000 service members being discharged from duty in the 18 years it was in place.   

RELATED: LGBTQ+ Groups Considers Using a More Inclusive Pride Flag

According to CBS News, discharged service members who have gotten other than an honorable discharge have been ineligible from receiving benefits such as compensation, pensions, education and access to medical care.   

The order also allows people who were discharged for gender identity or their HIV status to receive full benefits.   

Former President Barack Obama signed a law in 2010 repealing the policy, but it didn’t take effect until Sept. 20, 2011, ABC News reported.  

“It is time to close this chapter in our history,” Obama said. “It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly.”   

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