Biloxi VA adds rainbow flag to Pass Road display for Pride Month

According to the VA, an estimated one million veterans identify as LGBTQ+
To mark the start of Pride Month, VA leadership decided to add a rainbow flag to the display of American flags at the Pass Road entrance to the medical facility
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:28 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Some coast veterans are questioning a display of inclusion outside the Biloxi VA Medical Center.

Thursday, WLOX News received several calls asking why the facility replaced one of the American flags at its Pass Road entrance with the rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. A spokesman for the Biloxi VA told WLOX News the flag is flying as symbol of inclusion and all veterans should know, ”If you wore the uniform, the VA is here for you.”

WLOX News has learned that approval for the flag display came directly from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In a memo to facilities, Sec. Denis McDonough encouraged flying the rainbow flag for up to 30 days in June for Pride Month, but left the final decision to individual facilities.

Since taking over leadership at the VA in 2021, Sec. McDonough has been outspoken about equitable treatment and safety for the estimated one million veterans who identify as LGBTQ+.

In a speech in 2021, Sec. McDonough said, “LGBTQ+ veterans experience mental illness and suicidal thoughts at far higher rates than those outside their community, but they are significantly less likely to seek routine care, largely because they fear discrimination. This perpetuates a cycle in which LGBTQ+ individuals have lower rates of access to preventive care services, utilize health care services less frequently, and have more negative experiences with health care. That’s unacceptable.”

Under “Patient Care” on the website, you’ll find a section for LGBTQ+ Veterans that proudly proclaims, “We serve all who served.” The website also promises that every VA health care center in the nation has an LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator on site to help respond to “the unique needs of LGBTQ+ Veterans.”

Flying the rainbow flag on a VA property is not new. Several other facilities across the country have done so in previous years. It was actually designed by Army Veteran Gilbert Baker in 1978.

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