In 2020, VA partnered with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and White Ribbon USA, the largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls and to promote gender equity, healthy relationships, and a new version of masculinity.
This collective partnership, White Ribbon VA, aims to eliminate sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence in VA facilities and surrounding communities, and to promote positive change in organizational culture.
Members of VA’s National Social Work Program, the VHA Assault and Harassment Prevention Office, and the VHA National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships are integral to carrying out the partnership’s objectives.
White Ribbon VA’s goals are to increase Veteran and VA employee access to information and resources about harassment prevention. It also encourages Veterans and VA employees to support ending violence against others by taking the White Ribbon VA pledge.
Promises in White Ribbon VA Pledge
That pledge includes a promise to “never commit, excuse, or stay silent about sexual harassment, sexual assault, or domestic violence against others.” VA Secretary Denis McDonough recently took the pledge.
Secretary McDonough has committed that, “All VA staff, patients, their families, caregivers, survivors, visitors, and advocates must feel safe in a workplace free of harassment and discrimination.”
More than half of VA medical facilities have White Ribbon VA champions. Those champions promote the initiative in their facilities and will hold virtual or in-person events. Events include guest speakers, ceremonies with leadership, and Veteran involvement and opportunities for individuals to take the pledge.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Since then, public figures such as Joe Ostman of the Philadelphia Eagles, Enes Kanter of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Congressman Fred Upton have also taken the pledge.
The partnership will add to the resources VA makes available around harassment, assault and violence. The National Social Work Program has information available through its Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program.
Mikala Jamison is a senior writer with DCG Communications.