Veteran Affairs (VA) is undergoing analysis to determine how the Supreme Court’s historic decision to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will impact the 17,000 LGBT service members and veterans. The Supreme Court’s decision means that federal benefits that were previously limited to opposite-sex couples will be extended to legally married same-sex couples including those in the military.
Same-sex military spouses may now enroll in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and receive military benefits through the Department of Defense (DoD). Same-sex military couples can also receive benefits including on-base housing, health care, family separation allowance, command-sponsored visas and legal assistance. The end of DOMA means that there are over 100 benefits that will be extended to same-sex married military couples.
In light of the fact that a recent study by Outserve-SLDN showed that over 70 percent of a service member’s compensation comes in the form of benefits, these gains should greatly improve the lives of those service members. While VA has yet to determine the overall fiscal impact the extension of these entitlements will have on its budget, what is clear is that there will be far reaching consequences for those who currently serve or are veterans. As Allyson Robinson, executive director of OutServe-SLDN states, “We as a nation… take care of those who put their lives on the line for us.”