Rainbow Shield

Rainbow Shield bridges the gap in culturally competent services for the LGBTQ veteran community by providing VSO services and educating veteran service providers and advocates through our online certification program.

Veterans interested in VSO services can request assistance by using the contact form.

Service providers and advocates who are interested in the Rainbow Shield certification can find more information below. Certification trainings can be found on our Events page.

Please direct all questions to Kai Blevins, Director of Education & Veteran Services, at kblevins@outserve.org.

Rainbow Shield FAQ

Why was Rainbow Shield created?

Rainbow Shield was created to address the need for culturally competent services for the LGBTQ veteran community through providing VSO services and educating veteran service providers and advocates. In our work, we have heard from both providers and LGBTQ veterans that there is a lack of understanding and resources when it comes to veteran-specific care or applying for benefits. Often LGBTQ veterans feel unsafe or discouraged from seeking veteran services due to past experiences of discrimination or harassment. Additionally, many services 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. The Rainbow Shield program is one of the many ways OutServe-SLDN is working to support the LGBTQ veteran community.


Who can become certified?

Any individual who serves or advocates for veterans! This includes, but is not limited to: Veteran Service Officers (VSOs), health care providers, homeless and domestic violence shelter providers, social workers, educators, and administrators.

Agencies interested in holding certification trainings for their staff are encouraged to reach out to the education department directly at kblevins@outserve.org.


What does it mean to be certified?

Being certified through the Rainbow Shield program means a service provider or advocate has been personally trained by our staff and takes yearly continuing education training on LGBTQ veteran issues. Individuals who are certified through our Rainbow Shield program: (1) gain the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to support their veterans who identify as LGBTQ; (2) are featured in our national directory; (3) have the option of placing the Rainbow Shield graphic in their office; and (4) have access to the most up-to-date information on LGBTQ veterans’ issues and events through our Rainbow Shield newsletter.


How do I get certified?

OutServe-SLDN hosts quarterly cohort trainings to provide individuals with the education and tools they need to respectfully serve LGBTQ veterans. Each certification training is 90 minutes, and covers basic information on gender identity and sexual orientation, a brief history of LGBTQ military service, Trauma Informed Care principles and how to apply them, and a Q&A session with OutServe-SLDN staff. The training will incorporate tools and resources for the intersectional representation and advocacy for various special interest groups, to include: veterans of color, transgender veterans, and veterans living with HIV.

Certifications last for one year and are renewed by participating in a yearly continuing education training at least six months after becoming certified or from the last time certification was renewed.

For information on the next quarterly cohort training, visit our Events page.


What is expected of Rainbow Shield certified individuals?

By becoming certified, individuals commit to implementing the information from the trainings in their interactions with LGBTQ veterans and in their workplaces. This information is meant to be practiced to increase access and quality of services for the LGBTQ veteran community. Certified individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Rainbow Shield community and OutServe-SLDN with questions about best practices, creating trauma-informed spaces, or making paperwork inclusive, among other topics.


I have questions that weren’t covered in the trainings, and/or I’m not sure how to apply the information from the trainings to a specific situation. Where can I get answers?

Individuals are encouraged to reach out to the Rainbow Shield community through our Google Group, where you can ask questions and get answers from fellow certified individuals as well as OutServe-SLDN staff and volunteers who are experts on serving the LGBTQ veteran community. Please note that the community forum includes a set of guidelines that includes following all laws and policies necessary to protect a client’s privacy and proprietary information.

Additionally, you can submit a request through the portal’s contact form for new trainings covering the questions you’ve raised. If you prefer to ask speak directly with our education department, we are happy to discuss your questions over email or over the phone.


How do certified individuals access continuing education trainings?

Continuing education trainings are held quarterly, starting in June 2019. Each training is scheduled at least 3 months in advance, and cover topics relevant to serving the LGBTQ veteran community.