OutServe-SLDN Announces Launch of Rainbow Shield Program
(WASHINGTON) November 13, 2018 – OutServe-SLDN is excited to announce the launch of the Rainbow Shield program. The veteran services program bridges the gap in culturally competent services for the LGBTQ veteran community by providing veteran (VSO) services, and by educating veteran service providers and advocates. Veterans seeking services can work directly with a Veteran Service Officer at OutServe-SLDN or search our forthcoming online directory for a Rainbow Shield-certified VSO in their area. Certified service providers and advocates will be featured in our national directory, have the option of displaying the Rainbow Shield graphic, and have access to the most up-to-date information on LGBTQ veterans’ issues and events.
“There is a dire need for culturally competent service providers and advocates who can respectfully interact with and support our LGBTQ veteran community, especially our veterans of color and transgender veterans,” said Kai River Blevins, Director of Education & Veteran Services for OutServe-SLDN. “The current gap in culturally competent services means that LGBTQ veterans are often unable to access healthcare and benefits. I am excited about this program because I know firsthand the impact education can have in improving our interactions with providers, as well as its power in increasing our access to services.”
“Many LGBTQ veterans feel unsafe or discouraged from seeking veteran services due to past experiences of discrimination or harassment,” said Corrine Cole, Legal & Policy Manager for OutServe-SLDN. “Additionally, many service providers and advocates want their LGBTQ veteran clients to feel respected and supported, but don’t have access to the resources or training to make the necessary changes in their interactions or workplaces. Through this program, we look forward to not only assisting as many veterans as we can ourselves, but to arming our community service providers with the knowledge and tools they need to effectively advocate.”
The Rainbow Shield program is particularly necessary considering the current administration’s use of policy to rescind protections for LGBTQ people and privatize veterans affairs programming and services. Education work allows us to directly connect with service providers and advocates, regardless of the current policies in place, and work through how to implement best practices in their interactions with clients and the administrative processes they use.
Since August 2018, OutServe-SLDN’s education department has trained nearly 200 veteran service officers, dozens of health care providers, and 30 social service providers working in the field of housing and homelessness on how to better serve LGBTQ veterans and servicemembers. For more information on the Rainbow Shield program, including how to seek services or become certified, visit www.outserve-sldn.org/rainbow-shield.
OutServe-SLDN (OS-SLDN) is the largest non-profit, legal services, advocacy and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. With more than fifty chapters and 60,000 subscribers around the world, OS-SLDN supports a professional network of LGBT military personnel and strives to create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org.