The following letter from VA Secretary Denis McDonough is VA’s annual distribution about anti-harassment and sexual assault.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes that Veterans are a diverse group who served and sacrificed on behalf of this great Nation. We all have a responsibility to ensure every Veteran who receives treatment, benefits, or services at a VA facility is treated with dignity and respect.
VA is committed to ensuring our community is safe, welcoming, and a place that is free of harassment for all Veterans, their caregivers, volunteers, visitors, and employees. We thank you for honoring all those you encounter in any VA facility by treating them with dignity and respect, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
VA has a zero-tolerance policy for harassing, disruptive, abusive, or violent behavior. Harassment and sexual assault, including sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, is inappropriate conduct and will not be tolerated. Reports of inappropriate conduct are taken seriously. VA will investigate and take action, if warranted, to hold the person engaging in such conduct accountable for their actions. If the offender is a Veteran, such conduct may result in the Veteran being restricted as to the manner and location at which they can receive treatment.
Experiencing or exposure to harassment can impact us all. When harassment is observed and not reported, it can embolden the harasser to continue the inappropriate conduct and make the experiencer feel unsafe, disrespected, and unwelcome. VA strongly encourages those who witness harassment to support their fellow Veterans by reporting it.
If you have been harassed, sexually harassed, or sexually assaulted or witnessed such behavior at any VA facility contact the VA Police or a VA Management Official. To make a confidential report of sexual assault against any individual or if a non-employee wants to report sexual harassment contact the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline at 1-800-488-8244.
Veterans can find more information on VA’s zero-tolerance harassment policy, reporting procedures, resources, and training opportunities within the VA Anti-Harassment and Anti-Sexual Assault brochure.
Thank you for your service to our Nation and support for your fellow Veterans.