Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday that a potential influx of transgender veterans would not be a “major complication” for the department.
“I don’t see this as a major complication for us,” Shulkin told 77WABC radio host Rita Cosby. “I think that it’s important that veterans know that the VA is a safe place to get their care, that we value and respect the dignity of all our veterans, and we are not going to change our commitment or our mission to any veteran who chooses to get their services in the VA.”
His comment followed President Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Shulkin remarked that he was “not aware” of Trump’s decision when he announced it, but that he is not regularly made aware of such policy changes ahead of time.
Shulkin said that the VA is working to make sure that all veterans are treated with dignity and are in the personalized programs that they want. There have already been specialized programs developed for other demands or needs for particular medical services.
“Certainly when you personalize care there are added costs,” Shulkin said. “This is nothing different that we would do for any other specialized group that requires specialized services.”
“And we are going to continue to service them,” he added.
Shulkin stated that the VA’s sole focus is to take care of those who serve in the military, regardless of gender identity. They are already providing services and plan to continue to all veterans including transgender veterans.
“If the Department of Defense is no longer sending us veterans like that then of course we’ll adjust, but for the foreseeable future our commitment is from the time that a service member leaves to the end of their life and were going to honor that commitment to our veterans.”