As part of its approach to combat harassment and assault within its facilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs has begun outreach efforts to clarify its policies and share resources with all enrollees.
Beginning in January, the VA sent 1.5 million copies of the policy to enrolled veterans, with plans to reach all 9 million enrollees by physical or email addresses on file.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough also issued a statement along with the department’s statement of policy and rollout of its bystander intervention training.
“VA has a zero-tolerance policy for harassing, disruptive, abusive or violent behavior,” McDonough wrote in the statement. “Harassment and sexual assault, including sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, is inappropriate conduct and will not be tolerated.”
The statement also reinforces the department’s commitment to investigating reports of inappropriate conduct and holding offending parties accountable if warranted, noting that veterans who are found to be engaging in such conduct could be “restricted as to the manner and location at which they can receive treatment.”
Veterans may access bystander intervention training, review policies and access resources at www.va.gov/stop-harassment/policy.
Those who have experienced harassment or assault, or have witnessed such behavior, are advised to contact the VA Police or a VA management official. Those wishing to make a confidential report of sexual assault or sexual harassment can contact the VA Office of Inspector General Hotline at 1-800-488-8244.