Pride flags replace military flags at Indiana VA hospital for a day
By LEADA GORE | Alabama Media Group | Published: June 14, 2018
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — A VA facility in Indiana took down flags from each military branch and replaced them with LGBT pride flags for a day, even as the Pentagon opted not to acknowledge Pride Month.
A person visiting the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System recently snapped a photo of five flag poles that lined the entrance to the facility, WKRG reported. The poles normally fly the banners of the five military branches — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. On Tuesday, however, the flags were all replaced with LGBT pride rainbow flags.
June is Pride Month, an annual celebration of the LGBT community.
The VA issued a statement regarding the change:
"Logistically, we could not add a flag without removing a flag from the poles outside our VA. Rather than single out one military branch's flag to be temporarily replaced with the LGBT flag, we chose to remove all of them for one day in order to show our dedication to serving all veterans equally."
The service flags were returned before the end of the business day, the VA said.
The Pentagon and Pride Month
The Department of Defense did not release a memo marking LGBT Pride Month, the first such omission since the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," the Washington Post reported.
The Pentagon had officially acknowledged Pride Month since 2012 after former President Clinton signed a bill that allowed LGBT troops to serve in the military. The DOD typically issued a memo commemorating the month and encouraging Pride events during that time.
An LGBT group at the DOD did hold an event this year, though no senior-level Pentagon personnel spoke at the event.
The change was criticized by LGBT rights groups.
"Despite this shameful lack of leadership, we encourage LGBT service members, their families, and allies around the world to hold pride month observances on their local installations again this year, helping to highlight the importance and strength of diversity, the obstacles we have had to overcome, and the pride we have in service to our great nation," American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement.
Last year's Pride Month memo honored the "struggles, sacrifices and successes among the LGBT community (that) continue to shape our history and remind us to uphold tolerance and justice for all.
The Pentagon issued a statement to the Post saying it "supports diversity of all kinds across our military and we encourage everyone to celebrate the diversity of our total force team.
"We value all members of the DOD total force and recognize their immense contributions to the mission," Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason said.
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