WASHINGTON, D.C. - OutServe-SLDN is applauding Rep. Jackie Speir's (D-CA) amendment the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which was signed on Monday by President Donald Trump.

 

The Congresswoman’s amendment, which at OutServe-SLDN’s request was attached to the legislation with bi-partisan support, provides three-million dollars to the Boards of Corrections for Military and Naval Records to increase the number of staff members reviewing applications, to provide for cultural competency training of Board members, and to expand the Board’s capacity for review of veterans’ applications. Allocation of these funds to these Boards will ensure that they are able to process applications more effectively and more efficiently, providing our veterans with equitable and just relief.

The Boards for Corrections of Military and Naval Records are the highest level of administrative review within their respective services. Each Board has the mission to correct errors in, or remove injustices from, military records. Currently, these tribunals are operating near their upper time limitations.
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“Our courageous servicemembers make huge sacrifices and take untold risks for our country. But too many of them have received other than honorable discharges because of their sexual orientation, trauma linked to sexual assault, or the aftereffects of combat,” 
said Representative Jackie Speier, Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee. “Further funding of Corrections Boards will enable more of our brave servicemembers to correct the record and access the benefits they’ve earned.”

“We applaud Congresswoman Speier for aggressively ensuring our nation’s Boards for Corrections of Military and Naval Records are properly situated to provide our nation’s veterans with timely and due care,” 
said Andy Blevins, OutServe-SLDN Vice President of Operations & Strategy. “It has been a pleasure working with the Congresswoman and her office on this important initiative over the last several months. This is not only a win for our LGBTQ veteran siblings, but for the veteran community as a whole.”

There have been concerted efforts between the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, state agencies, and community partners to stream-line applications for records corrections and make this avenue of relief more available and widely known. An exponential increase in the number of received applications is expected as veterans become aware of and start utilizing this avenue. After noticing a dramatic increase in time-to-decision for applications made to the Boards, OutServe-SLDN requested that Rep. Speier include increased funding in the Defense Authorization and assisted her office in preparing the legislative language.
  Absent this implemented change, these efforts would have resulted in a longer backlog and increased the length of time in which veterans were waiting for their application decisions.

“OutServe-SLDN’s 
Restore Honor, Restore Freedom program proudly offers our LGBTQ veteran community pro bono assistance as they begin the process of correcting their unfavorable discharges stemming from their sexual orientation or gender identity and to have their discharge documents amended to reflect their true name,” said Peter Perkowski, OutServe-SLDN Legal & Policy Director. “We look forward to further engaging with these tribunals to continue providing these pro bono services to our members, working together to ensure their discharge documentation accurately reflects the true characterization of their military service and affords them access to due benefits.”

OutServe-SLDN’s legal department has assisted hundreds of LGBTQ veterans in upgrading discharge paperwork to remove their dead names and to reflect the true character of their service to this country. It also serves as the premier LGBTQ-focused VSO in the country, representing LGBTQ veterans in VA benefits cases and appeals, as well as providing cultural competency trainings to interested VSOs, state veteran agencies, and community partners, streamlining advocative efforts throughout the country for the LGBTQ veteran community.

 

-Press Release Contributed to This Piece

 

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