Walla Walla VA hosts LGBTQ Pride event

Concluding National Pride Month

WALLA WALLA, Wash. - [Press release courtesy Walla Walla VA Medical Center] - June is National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month and throughout the month, the Walla Walla VA Medical Center (WWVAMC) has been sharing information to Veterans, employees, and the public to support a welcoming health and work environment inclusive of LGBT Veterans and employees.

To close out the activities for the month, on Friday, June 30 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., WWVAMC will host an OPEN MIC event on the facility’s parade grounds. This event will provide people the opportunity to perform poetry, spoken word, song, or music centered around the theme “It Takes a Rainbow.”

According to Elizabeth Lopez Lovelady, WWVAMC’s LGBT Special Emphasis Program Coordinator, the concept is to allow participants to share their experiences as an LGBT Veteran or employee, but it is also open to everyone. “This is the first Pride event the WWVAMC is hosting,” Lopez Lovelady said. “Our hope is to create an event showcasing local voices in the community through an afternoon of words and music.”

The event is free and open to the public, however participants must sign up in advance by contacting Lopez Lovelady at (509) 525-5200, extension 26502. If you are stopping by to watch the event, there is no need to RSVP.

The Walla Walla VA proudly serves ALL Veterans who’ve served.

LGBT Veterans face increased health risks and unique challenges in accessing quality healthcare. VA strives to be a national leader in the provision of health care to LGBT Veterans and assure care is provided in a sensitive and safe environment at VA health care facilities nationwide.

In an effort to promote a welcoming health and work environment inclusive of LGBT Veterans and employees, specific supportive positions have been created through the VA National LGBT Program for Patient Care Services. This program establishes at least one LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (LGBT VCC) at each facility. It also establishes Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) leads to oversee and coordinate LGBT VCC activities in their region and to facilitate communication with the national LGBT Program for Patient Care Services.

For the facility here in Walla Walla, WA, Celena Veverka, LICSW now serves as the LGBT Veteran’s Care Coordinator. This position is designed to support and fulfill the strategic plan as lined out by VA’s National LGBT Program for Patient Care Services. This plan includes education and training intended to enable providers and VA staff to attend to LGBT Veteran issues appropriately and with confidence.

In the near future, there will be campaigns and events for the purpose of creating awareness and increasing comfortability for both Veterans and staff with regards to these issues.  In addition to trainings and events, the LGBT VCC will be available to provide support and assistance as needed for individual LGBT Veterans and/or providers.

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