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A US Congressman wants pride flag removed from Biloxi VA. Why it won’t happen.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ezell, who represents South Mississippi and the Pine Belt in Congress, wants the Department of Veterans Affairs to remove a pride flag in front of the Biloxi VA Medical Center.

In a Friday letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough and the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System, Ezell takes issue with the pride flag replacing a U.S. flag.

“While I believe everyone should be treated with respect, I take serious issue with any flag flying at a VA facility that promotes social policy positions or political statements,” Ezell wrote.

Said an Ezell spokeswoman: “The place that it was specifically flown was his issue.”

The pride flag sits with three other U.S. flags flying at the entrance of the Biloxi VA Medical Center. The center added it to the display Thursday to celebrate Pride Month.

“If anybody wore the uniform, they are welcome at our VA,” Shaun Shenk, chief of community and public affairs at the Biloxi VA Medical Center, said. Giving veterans inclusive and high quality health care, he said, “is what they earn by signing on the dotted line.”

Last year, McDonough allowed all VA-owned facilities to fly the pride flag for 30 days in June. “Proud to fly the Pride flag over VA,” McDonough tweeted Friday.

“VA facilities fly the flag as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of LGBTQ+ Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors, and as a symbol of VA’s commitment to inclusion,” VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said.

A spokesman for McDonough told the Sun Herald his office would respond to Ezell directly.

The VA says it is committed to providing care for all veterans, including those who identify as LGBTQ. They offer LGBTQ+ veteran care coordinators at every facility and require health care to be delivered in an “affirming and inclusive environment,” according to its website.

They also offer discharge upgrades if veterans show a discharge was connected to sexual orientation.

The VA estimates there are one million LGBTQ+ veterans in the U.S. Shenk said there are about 6,500 veterans in the Gulf Coast VA healthcare system that identify as LGBTQ+.