SAGE Receives Funding from New York State Legislature to Launch LGBT Elder Veterans Initiative
Newly adopted New York State budget provides $100,000 to support LGBT elder veterans in New York with accessing veterans’ benefits and improving their overall health.
SAGE’s LGBT Elder Veterans Initiative will offer legal counsel and comprehensive case-management services to LGBT elder veterans
“We would like to thank the Assembly for its leadership and –in partnership with the Governor—for righting a wrong that left many LGBT elder veterans without necessary benefits,” said SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams. “Throughout New York, there are more than 40,000 LGBT elder veterans who served their country proudly but have not received the recognition and support they deserve. This program will begin to address that historical injustice.”
“These types of services not only help veterans in need, but also offer significant benefits and cost savings to New York State and local governments by reducing veterans’ reliance on state public assistance and emergency room usage,” added Adams.
SAGE gives special thanks to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Veterans Committee Chair Michael Benedetto, and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Danny O’Donnell and Harry Bronson.
As part of this initiative, SAGE will offer legal counsel to LGBT elder veterans with their applications and appeals for veterans’ benefits, including assistance with changing a veteran’s discharge status to honorable where necessary—a change made possible by the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from military service.
SAGE also will provide LGBT elder veterans with comprehensive services—case management, employment and referral services—to access additional benefits for their physical and mental wellness.
The need for this new SAGE program is timely and profound. Many LGBT elders are veterans who served at a time when discrimination in the military against LGBT people was common-place and official government policy. Many LGBT veterans left the military with a “less than honorable” discharge or notations of homosexuality on their discharge paperwork, which has led to lifelong consequences. For example, many LGBT elder veterans have not been able to access their federal VA and related benefits and instead rely on state public assistance programs.
Many LGBT elder veterans go without essential income, medical and other support services, which can lead to impoverishment, over-reliance on emergency room visits and hospitalization for medical care, and even homelessness.
According to SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams, the program will directly benefit LGBT elder veterans in New York—but its impact could eventually be national as more agencies recognize the need for LGBT-friendly services for elder veterans and look to replicate SAGE’s initiative.
SAGE’s leadership on LGBT aging in New York and around the country is well recognized.
In 2010, SAGE launched the country’s first and only National Resource Center on LGBT Aging in partnership with the federal Administration on Aging.
In 2012, SAGE opened The SAGE Center in New York City, the country's first full-time innovative LGBT senior center—a model for other parts of the country, and an incubator of program models that are meant to support the country's rapidly growing LGBT older adult population.
Additionally, SAGE coordinates a growing network of local SAGE affiliates—including four affiliates throughout New York State—that support LGBT people in their communities as they age.
And SAGE’s cutting-edge federal advocacy program has brought significant attention to the multiple policy issues facing LGBT older people, including the importance of making the Older Americans Act LGBT-inclusive and the need to invest in targeted supports for this especially vulnerable elder population.
To learn more about SAGE, visit sageusa.org.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of affiliates across the country. Learn more at sageusa.org and lgbtagingcenter.org.