Letters to the Editor (February 2014)

Veterans ineligible for VA benefits may merit help, too

I would add to Judith Dekle’s comments from the NASW News of September 2013 other groups who are not eligible for benefits from the VA.

We are not fond of noticing that there are many Americans who have served in the military for varying lengths of stay and have had to come out with less than honorable discharges.

These Americans who have served in this horrible war may well merit the very same services as any other soldiers who have experienced trauma and/or head wounding. They are hidden to us.

How do we reach them and offer services they need in order to return home? How do we reach their families and loved ones, their neighbors and employers, their pastors and medical providers?

How do we honor them for any service they did provide short of whatever went wrong and short-circuited their eligibility for VA benefits?

EstherGrace Gilbert, LCSW, ACSW
Philadelphia, Pa.

LGBT umbrella excludes some bi and trans people

In the September 2013 issue it is wonderful to see “NASW takes an active role leading up to rulings in five high profile cases” written eloquently by Rena Malai.

In regards to DOMA (the defense of marriage act) and prop 8 (giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights to marry) it is an imperative subject that needs to be resolved for the gay and lesbian population as well as bisexuals and those people of trans experience in gay or lesbian relationships.

However, it is beyond problematic when gay and lesbian issues and LGBT are placed within the same context. There is no explanation or discussion that many people of trans experience are in fact heterosexual, and many bisexual people are in heterosexual relationships and therefore are not in gay or lesbian relationships (i.e. same sex relations).

To renounce those with a trans experience that identify as heterosexual is adding to the social stigma many people of trans experience face within our society. A sizeable component of social work practice is to destigmatize an identity, normalize it, as well as legitimize its existence.

Although the gay and lesbian movement has made amazing strides in politics, social justice, as well as media and education, it has also made bisexual and trans identities into a gay/lesbian subheading, which on many levels is not only disempowering bi and trans people but putting their very existence in danger for violence and hate crimes.

Currently, in LGbt media, we see more focus on trans issues and that should be complimented, but not under a gay umbrella.

In our field of social work practice we should be educating each other locally and nationally with facts. We need to also legitimize the identities of the people we are discussing and are compensated to serve to the best of our ability. Let’s start by reviewing LGbt oppression utilizing Gay as the umbrella term for all sexual minorities housed within the umbrella term LGBT.

And let us change the model of this discussion by always reminding our readers, our colleagues, and society that LGBT individuals have eclectic and sometimes multifarious sexual orientations including being identified as heterosexual and bisexual, therefore not always being in ‘same sex’ relationships.

As a national organization we have an ethical responsibility to make sure LGbt is not discussed within the context of only gay and lesbian issues.

Rosalyne Blumenstein LCSW ACHP-SW
Hollywood Hills, Calif.