Over this past Pride weekend, local veterans who identify as members of the LGBT community had the opportunity to participate in a rather unique survey.
"There's really not much research about LGBT veterans," says Katiuscia O'Brian, a researcher with the St. Louis Veterans Affairs Health Care System. "We're trying to find out what information can we get from local veterans to help the VA locally to provide more culturally competent care."
Not only was this the first time the VA had a presence at Pride St. Louis, O'Brian says hers is only the second research survey ever done by the VA on the needs of LGBT veterans in the U.S.
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In addition to the surveys filled out by vets over the weekend, O'Brian also hopes more will take the time in the next month to participate online. The questions will collect information on the soldiers' past medical experiences at the VA, general health information, and demographics. O'Brian says she hopes to find out if openly gay soldiers feel they are treated any different by their doctors at the VA, if there's anything the hospital can do to be more "culturally competent," and whether there are certain health issues that are more prevalent within the LGBT veteran community. And some of her research questions are even more basic than that.
"There aren't solid numbers about how many veterans identify as LGBT," she says.
O'Brian hopes with the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," more vets will be willing to fill out the questionnaire. She hopes for at least 200 to 250 participants.
Veterans can fill out the "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Veteran Health Care Utilization and Health Outcomes" survey by clicking here.