Reporting Sexual Harassment

Veterans and visitors to VA facilities can now report incidents of sexual harassment or assault that occur on campus by calling the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 1-800-MyVA411 information line. The hotline will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and callers will have access to follow-up health care and support if needed.

“By creating multiple avenues for persons to report sexual harassment or sexual assault incidents, the VA removes barriers to reporting and creates a quicker path for VA to investigate and take appropriate action,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said in a press release Wednesday.

More than a decade ago, a 2011 Government Accountability Office investigation found that nearly 300 assaults were reported to VA police from 2007 to 2010, including 134 rapes, almost half of which came in 2010.

A 2022 GAO report found that policies at the VA to prevent and address sexual harassment were incomplete and noted that 17% of VA employees said they had been sexually harassed, compared with 12% of non-VA employees in similar settings. That report did not address sexual harassment against veterans or VA visitors.

Pressure began mounting on the VA to improve its prevention efforts and policies on sexual assault and harassment in 2019 when a Navy Reserve member and senior congressional staff, Andrea Goldstein, reported she had been sexually assaulted at the VA medical center in Washington, DC, and her claims weren’t taken seriously. No criminal charges were filed, but a subsequent investigation found that the facility lacked functioning security cameras, and employees did not respond adequately to the incident.

“MyVA411 will increase reports, and we think that’s a good thing because every single report we get is an opportunity to address a veteran who’s been wronged,” he added.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial