The Marine Corps celebrates service, love and pride in VA health care.


Dave Mapp, a gay Marine Corps veteran, remembers the day he was told he had 18 months to live after being diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Nine years later, he’s living proof that anything is possible with forgiveness and a positive attitude…and great health care at the VA.

The map was strange this season. Bay Pines VAIn celebration of Pride Month, he spoke about his experiences as a VA patient, both as a veteran and as a patient. Although Mapp admits his experiences are not for everyone, “LGBTQ+ veterans and their dependents are welcome and fully supported at the Bay Pines VA. My husband and I are examples.

Pictured above, Toni Buchter (left) and her husband, Marine Corps veteran Dave Mapp, say the care they receive from the VA is second to none, and they value the welcoming, inclusive and safe environment they experience around the Bay Pines VA.

“I was optimistic about life and the possibilities.”

“My positivity is a built-in resilience that I gained from growing up in a very difficult, very hostile world. As an African American raised in a mixed-race family in New York City as a Roman Catholic, I experienced a lot. I’ve learned to be strong but I’ve also grown to be optimistic about life and what’s to come; Mapp said.

Unlike his father, who served in an Army band in Europe, Mapp’s Marine Corps experience was spent 1975-1977 at the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, NC, supporting the corps as a supply warehouse worker.

Although Mapp was proud of his work supporting his fellow Marines, he was struggling personally.

“I came from a world where men who had relationships with men were very low class. I was unhappy dating women while secretly living a double life of dating men. My mood made me feel depressed and low on self-esteem; Besides worrying about what others think of me and what life has in store for me moving forward. While I do not speak for all gay black men, my experience of coming out as an African American has been very challenging. Issues of race, family dynamics, social expectations, and the hatred and prejudice that African Americans face every day have made my coming out experience more difficult, painful, and deeply challenging to grow, free myself, and find my freedom.

As he always does, Karta turned positive

Mapp earned a Master of Arts in Professional Development from John F. Kennedy University in California and a Master of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in marriage and family therapy. His educational pursuits have enabled him to provide vocational rehabilitation counseling and program administration to veterans, the homeless, immigrants, prisoners, women on welfare with dependent children, and other diverse populations.

“His most rewarding work has been seeing it improve the quality of life for others and help save lives from suicide and harm to others,” he said.

In the year In November 2016, Mapp’s positivity inspired the start of his fun season…with a coffee date. “Tony and I started the affair from the beginning and we were married 18 months later. Tony is the love of my life. He made me laugh and my resting place is safe,” he said.

Mapp adds that when he returns to do the parole test, he is often disturbed, but he can walk hand in hand with Tony, who is waiting on the road.

I never expected gay marriage to become legal. The legalization of gay marriage has helped me feel better about myself, the pride and joy that my relationship needs. While receiving care at Bay Pines VA, I have benefited greatly from dedicated staff and a loving husband who is allowed to be an active and legitimate part of my health care decisions.


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