So today is Veterans Day! To all those who have served, a heart-felt thank you. And to all those still serving, an equally warm thank you to you as well.
Of the approximately 21.8 million veterans in the United States today, over 1 million are LGBT. And of the 1.2 million active servicemembers, over 66,000 are LGB. While the discrimination we face as a minority under DADT has been very real to all of us, Servicemembers United wants to take this Veterans Day to focus on an issue that affects the entire wider military community, regardless of orientation, color, religion, gender, or age.
Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) remains a serious issue for servicemembers and veterans. While PTS can affect anyone, its impact can be exacerbated with gay and lesbian troops and vets because of our frequent unwillingness to trust military doctors and sometimes even VA healthcare providers. For those who are skeptical about seeking evaluation and treatment for PTS because of the cloud of DADT, Servicemembers United has been featuring two civilian resources as alternatives on its homepage.
Give An Hour and The Soldiers Project are two civilian mental health provider networks that can hook up servicemembers, vets, and even their families (including LGBT families) with free counseling and other mental health services, and many of these providers specialize in treating PTS. Several of our members have used these networks to get the care they needed but were hesitant to seek elsewhere, and both organizations have confirmed to Servicemembers United that they are very welcoming of gay and lesbian troops, vets, and partners.
For those who are unaware of the toll that PTS is taking on our troops, vets, and the nation as a whole, we recommend a powerful new documentary from HBO called Wartorn. Please be warned that this film, which premiers today, is graphic, and those currently experiencing problems with PTS may not want to watch it just yet. But for civilian Americans, or those vets who never saw combat, this film is a powerful and moving glimpse into what troops and vets who see combat experience when they return.
Thanks again for being a part of the Servicemembers United network. Because of you, we're the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their supporters. We're proud to not only hold that distinction, but to use it to fight every single day to make your lives better and honor your service. Happy Veterans Day!