National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities, and Service Academies

VA Deputy Secretary Donald M. Remy was a plenary speaker at the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities, and Service Academies held on April 6.

VA Deputy Secretary Donald M. Remy was a plenary speaker at the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities, and Service Academies held on April 6.

Hosted by the Department of the Navy and Howard University, this event rotates between Military Service Academies and their community academic partners to highlight advances in sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention and response across organizations and share promising practices. With over 3,000 participants from across the country and around the world in attendance, this year’s focus included the importance of healthy climates and safe environments where all community members can thrive.

Remy joined the Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick in the event’s opening plenary session, which was moderated by Rosie Hidalgo, senior advisor on Gender Based Violence and special assistant to the President’s White House Gender Policy Council. These leaders discussed a myriad of ways their organizations are dedicated to ending sexual assault and sexual harassment, strengthening cultures, and always providing supportive resources for those who experience these incidents.

Hidalgo asked how VA is proactively tackling ending sexual harassment and sexual assault among Veterans and employees. Training and education are key components of VA’s effort to end these behaviors. Prevention and response education includes “not only our employees at every level, but all of our Veterans that come into our facilities,” Remy explained. “We believe we’re making a difference.”

Remy further discussed the importance of safe environments, for those coming to VA for services and those who are working in our environments. He was clear when he stated that VA is dedicated to a culture of safety, and that sexual harassment and sexual assault will not be tolerated.

For more than 75 years, VA has partnered with academic institutions to grow and train the next generation of health care professionals. “Many of America’s doctors at some point in their careers are trained in the VA system,” Remy said. Part of that training includes sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention, protection and support resources for survivors. Mandatory sexual assault and sexual harassment education courses provide Health Professions Trainees at VA facilities with knowledge they take wherever they go – perpetuating a culture of prevention, protection and survivor support throughout their careers.

Dr. Frederick explained how the lack of access to support systems and social services contributes to unsafe spaces – affecting college campuses and the greater community at large. He also described the need for strategies and approaches that help prevent such destructive behaviors from occurring in the first place. “This is a public health issue, and our public health system needs to be strengthened around these issues,” Dr. Frederick said.

Eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment also requires proactive leadership, changes in culture and environments, and accountability. “We have an obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect,” Secretary Del Toro explained. “There’s no tolerance whatsoever for sexual harassment, sexual assault, or any other type of negative behavior.”

To demonstrate their dedication, Remy ended the session with leading his co-panelists and the over 3,000 National Discussion participants in taking the White Ribbon VA Pledge, stating: “Everyone has an important role to play in this.” Remy told attendees at the virtual event, “This is an opportunity to take that pledge and amplify our commitment.”

“I, (state your name), pledge to never commit, excuse, or stay silent about sexual harassment, sexual assault, and domestic violence against others.”

The plenary session launched a full-day discussion as part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Military, academia, student and industry leaders discussed critical elements of prevention and response, including proactive leadership, peer-to-peer outreach and support, culture change, legislation and policy, and accountability. They also discussed the connection between sexual violence and other related issues, including bullying, workplace violence and suicide.

Click the following link to watch the full National Discussion; the plenary session begins at 28:37:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9vuGf_iLck.

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One Comment

  1. Carl D. Mervyn May 1, 2022 at 8:07 am

    The VA hospital in Durham N.C. causes sexual harassment to the veterans. How does me standing naked in front of two female nurses help my mental health?

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