A transgender veteran
from Arkansas will be one of the current and former service members quizzing the candidates tonight at a forum in New York City with presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
Former U.S. Army Maj. Evan Young
, who lives in Pope County, said he was recently invited to attend and ask a question
at tonight's "Commander in Chief" forum,
hosted by NBC News and Iraqi and Afghanistan Veterans of America. When we talked to him this morning, he was waiting to catch a flight to New York.
Young retired from the military in 2013 after beginning his transition from biologically female to male. He currently serves as national president of the Transgender American Veterans Association
. We profiled Young for our Visionaries Issue last year.
Young said that if he is allowed to speak to the candidates during the forum, he plans to ask the following question: "Do you support medically necessary transition-related surgeries by the VA for transgender veterans that have served their country honorably?"
Young said that while active-duty transgender service members can receive free gender-reassignment surgeries under the DOD's Tricare system to help them transition, veterans cannot. The latest edition of the Tricare Manual regarding gender dysphoria
explains that gender-reassignment surgeries for vets and their dependents are forbidden by statute.
"The AMA [American Medical Association] has deemed GRS medically necessary," Young said this morning. "Tricare covers medically necessary transition related surgeries for active duty now... So far, veterans are left high and dry for medically necessary transition related surgeries. Neither Tricare nor the VA covers it."