Veterans Crisis Line
Helping ALL who served
by Denny Meyer
American Veterans for Equal Rights
Transgender American Veterans Association
Earlier this year I received a
routine promotional e mail from the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL),
reminding me as a veterans' advocate that VCL is the VA's front line of
defense against veterans' suicide, PTSD based personal crises, and other
emergencies that constantly confront our nations' 30 million+ veterans.
Knowing that well over one million of those living vets who served from
WWII to the present, including me, are LGBT, I wondered how well
prepared the Veterans Crisis Line is in serving us.
Its part of my job as Veterans
Affairs Officer for the nation's two top LGBT veterans service
organizations to ask questions. I asked. Is the Veterans
Crisis Line trained, ready, and able to provide competent
relevant counseling and help to America's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender, Queer and Questioning veterans and service members in
crises? The VCL leadership team took the question very seriously.
A mid March teleconference was arranged, attended by the presidents of
American Veterans For Equal Rights (AVER) and Transgender American
Veterans Association (TAVA), and the top management of Veterans Crisis
Line along with its leading experts, regional coordinators, and public
relations people. Hard questions were asked and discussed
The short answer is YES. The
Veterans Crisis Line is actively and effectively helping our LGBTQ vets
who call desperately seeking help. The discussion with AVER and
TAVA leadership served to enhance that help by providing VCL local
Suicide Prevention Coordinators with contact and referral information so that our vets
could be put in touch with our local and national LGBT veterans' service
organizations for support, mentoring, community, and pride.
MSGT, USAF, Ret.
by Denny Meyer
Joanne Carroll is a seventy
four year old retired US Air Force Master Sergeant Trans Woman.
She calls herself lucky because she's in good health, has Tricare,
Medicare, retirement benefits, and has reared seven children. As
you might imagine, her successful life is a story of determined
Her parents were solid and
deeply religious, and moved from Canada to Minnesota when
she was a young child. In Canada, her father had been a missionary traveling
on horseback between lumber camps in British Columbia. Beginning
at age 4 or 5, she slowly
and silently grew to become aware of herself, getting the first
glimmering of understanding when she heard about Christine Jorgenson in
the early 1950s.
Her early school friends were always girls. Later, she learned how to hide and
avoid being bullied for having a Canadian accent, being small and
regarded as a sissy. Then, in her teens, she began an era of what
'acting,' hanging out with hoods, with a ducktail hairdo, wearing boots,
and smoking. Think of Marlin Brando in the 1950s.
Surviving high school, shortly after
the Korean War, she
joined the Air Force, as a pragmatic Midwesterner seeking the security
of the GI Bill. As many of us who have reenlisted more than once
know, one thing leads to another and before you realize it, you are in
the midst of a military career. According to MSGT Carroll, and my
own experience, you get used to the security of a good job with regular
advancement, nearly unlimited benefits, three meals a day, and the kind
of respect that a senior NCO achieves through steady hard work.
Joanne Carroll earned all that over a 22 year career in the Air Force.
Hate along the Wabash
The stately Sycamores lining the banks of the Wabash
must be bowing their branches in shame. In late March, the
Governor of Indiana signed a state law granting business' in that state
the right to decline to serve anyone to whom they religiously object to
doing business with. It is blatantly clear that the target of
law's allowance for discrimination is LGBT Americans. And before
the ink of his signature was dry, the whole thing blew up in his face
with massive national and local protests. It was and is all about
Of course, the law does not actually mention LGBT
people; doing that would be unconstitutionally singling out a class of
citizens for discrimination. This seemingly clever dodge was
ignored in the uproar of outrage that ensued. And so, the result
of this new law is that anyone in Indiana with a real or imaginary
'religion' of any sort can decide to discriminate against 'anyone' or
any group that they don't like and claim that their 'religion' gives
them that right. The problem with such badly written laws is
encapsulated in the old caution: "Be careful what you wish for!"
The law actually allows discrimination against anyone
including patriotic American veterans who have served our nation in
World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan who happen to be gay,
or happen to be Black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or Catholic, or Jewish,
You should now be beginning to notice a familiar
historical smell to this law, or a stench. It was exactly that
kind of law that was enacted by the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s
against Jews and other 'minority' citizens suddenly branded as less than
human 'foreigners.' The escalating 1930s laws of discrimination in Germany led
to government permission to loot and burn synagogues and Jewish
businesses, rape, robbery and murder, and ultimately to a national
program of genocide. It all started with a few 'minor' laws
allowing 'religion tainted' permission to discriminate.