A word from the President

On July 15, 2013 Chapter Vice President John H. and I attended the grand opening celebration for the Valor Point Homeless Domiciliary in Lakewood, CO. It was an eye opening experience, not just to see the progress the Veteran’s Administration is making towards ending Veteran homelessness, but to hear first hand their commitment to be inclusive of GLBT Veterans.

Valor Point is a 25,000 square foot facility that will serve 40 Veterans at any one time. There are 32 rooms for men, 8 for women. Yes I said rooms. Almost all are single rooms, with private bath, and self locking doors. Services will include primary and ambulatory care, psychiatry, recreations therapy, chaplaincy, intensive case management, vocational rehabilitation, peer support and housing skills.

The two-fold mission of Valor Point is to identify homeless and at-risk veterans who need residential treatment to overcome homelessness and to provide these veterans with transitional, recovery-focused treatment that increases their independents living skills. This would help obtain and maintain housing upon graduation.

Why were we there? Our mission statement commits us “To continue to strive for full equal rights and benefits for all GLBT members of the US Armed Forces and veterans. Spouse recognition, housing, health and death benefits.” With the demise of DOMA, thanks to the US Supreme Court, the law now forces the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to provide benefits to those currently holding marriage certificates. More of these changes will be coming down the pike.

We have started working with the VA to see how we can incorporate our Chapter’s desire to provide support and resources to our area GLBT Veterans. We want to be more than a Color Guard and a social entity. We have some talented and compassionate members who want to serve the community. It’s the Chapter’s leadership that needs to provide the guidance and set the example.

Taking it a step further, come September, we will be hosting the AVER National Convention. The demise of DADT and DOMA, along with the overwhelming shift in GLBT acceptance, has the same effect on the National organization as it does our Chapter. Part of our goal is to help the National organization expand their focus on providing support and services, now that the many of the original goals have been accomplished. Remember the Convention theme is “Continuing to Serve”. We were selected to host, partly due to our short, but successful, performance to date.  I don’t intend to see that perception change.

John Kelly