Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans are more likely to struggle to access health care, suffer from depression and face a host of other serious medical issues than their heterosexual peers, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Researchers from the Rand Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute said the findings point to the need for improved outreach to minority groups into the veterans community to ensure veterans are getting the information they need.

“Our findings underscore the importance and urgency of efforts to improve health services and outcomes for LGBTQ+ veterans, including actions to ensure that all those veterans are able to use the benefits for which they are eligible and can access appropriate care when needed,” the study authors wrote.

Past studies have hinted at medical care disparities for LGBTQ+ veterans, but the latest Rand report used state-collected data from more than 2 million American citizens over a six-year span to track trends among the minority veteran groups.

The results showed a range of problems across different topics and subject groups. For example, 82% of heterosexual female veterans reported having a medical checkup annually, but only 68% of bisexual female veterans reported the same.

Twice as many bisexual or transgender male veterans stated they could not afford medical care in the past year than their heterosexual peers (6% versus 12% for bisexual vets; 13% for transgender vets).

About one in six heterosexual female veterans reported problems with poor mental health. For gay female veterans, that figure is one in four. For bisexual female veterans, it’s one in three.

Male veterans saw similar trend lines, though the difference was less severe.

Researchers said veterans living in states with policies friendly towards LGBTQ+ individuals saw less of a disparity in health care outcomes based on their sexuality and gender identity, indicating that the problem transcends post-military benefits and services.

But the study’s authors recommended further research into the issue, and “expansion of LGBTQ+-affirming services within the Veterans Health Administration” to address potential gaps in care.

The full report is available on the Rand website.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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