Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veteran Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA) is committed to providing quality care to all Veterans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Veterans. Excellent care has no boundaries.
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas seeks to promote the health, welfare, and dignity of LGBT Veterans and their families. We are committed to making sensitive and high quality health care accessible. Our policies and practices focus on ensuring a safe, welcoming, and affirmative environment of care for LGBT Veterans. Our employees receive training in clinically competent care that is responsive to the unique needs of LGBT Veterans.
MEDVAMC LGBT program goals are to provide:
1. A safe, welcoming, and respectful environment at MEDVAMC.
2. Culturally-sensitive and effective patient-centered care delivered by staff with up to date training in LGBT specialized services.
3. Patient non-discrimination policy inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
4. An equal visitation policy that allows any person the patient chooses, including same-sex partners, to be present during a patient’s stay.
5. An employment non-discrimination policy that welcomes LGBT candidates and employees.
Veteran Care Coordinator
To fulfill its commitment to healthcare equality, the VA created a national LGBT program to meet the unique patient care needs of the LGBT Veteran population. Each VA Healthcare System has appointed an LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) to assist Veterans, staff, and community stakeholders with awareness of patient care services, understanding of VA policies, and other LGBT program related services. The LGBT VCC serves as a point-person for LGBT Veteran-related health care issues at the MEDVAMC and all of our VA Outpatient Clinics. The LGBT VCC also provides training and offers consultation to facilitate staff members’ LGBT-related clinical and cultural competency. For information regarding LGBT-specific clinical services or VA policies regarding LGBT patient care, contact Dr. Hiram Rivera-Mercado, LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator at (281) 217-9028. Dr. Rivera-Mercado can also be reached through MyHealtheVet Secure Messaging at "LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator HOUSTON."
Affirmative LGBT Veteran Services
1. You Are Not Alone
America is home to an estimated one million LGBT service members and Veterans, many of whom have served the US military with honor and distinction. All Veterans are welcome at MEDVAMC. If you feel you are not being provided with compassionate care at MEDVAMC, please make your concerns known by contacting your Patient Advocate or the LGBT VCC.
2. Affirmative LGBT Veteran Services
- Open to all LGBT Veterans at MEDVAMC.
- Individual therapy with mental health clinicians familiar with LGBT issues.
- Work towards individual goals related to LGBT identity, with a focus on emotional well-being, self-acceptance, and empowerment, in a supportive group environment.
3. Transgender Services
MEDVAMC provides patient care for Veterans who are questioning their gender identity or whose gender identity or expression differs from their biological sex at birth. Services include cross-sex hormone treatment, post-operative care, and individual/group psychotherapy to support those transitioning or transgendered. To begin services related to gender identity, ask your primary care provider to enter an e-consultation for an initial specialized "Mental Health Transgender Outpatient Evaluation"
Psychology Resident for LGBT Health
MEDVAMC is one of only nine VA facilities that has a full-time, interprofessional LGBT Health Psychology Resident who is dedicated to serving this population of Veterans. The LGBT Psychology Resident conducts trainings with staff and provides direct clinical services to LGBT Veterans, such as support groups and individual and couples therapy through the General Mental Health Clinic.
In addition to in-person educational opportunities, all employees are encouraged to complete specific online training on caring for LGBT patients.
Important Phone Numbers
LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator: 281-217-9028
LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator Houston: Secure Messaging
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Network Telecare and Appointment Center: 713-794-8985 or 1-800-639-5137
LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) Program
As of March 2016, each VA facility has a local LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (VCC) who is appointed by their facility leadership. The VCC is responsible for promoting best practices for serving LGBT Veterans and connecting LGBT Veterans to services.
To learn important information about the unique health risks of LGBT Veterans, download these relevant fact sheets. Here you can also find information about relevant services offered by VA.