Friday, 21 June 2024

Veterans can now call 1-800-MyVA411 to report sexual assault or sexual harassment at VA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors can now report incidents of sexual assault or sexual harassment at VA facilities by calling 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411, option 9).

Whenever someone calls the hotline, they will be able to confidentially report incidents of sexual assault or harassment that occur at VA facilities. The call center will be ready to answer the phones 24/7, and follow-up health care and support will also be made available to those in need.

This new capability is part of VA’s “no wrong door” reporting policy for sexual assault or sexual harassment. Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors are also encouraged to report incidents of sexual harassment or sexual assault as soon as they occur, including while they are still at the VA facility. These incidents can be reported directly to VA police, VA staff, or local law enforcement, and now also by calling 1-800-MyVA411.

“Maintaining a safe and welcoming environment at all VA facilities for veterans, their caregivers, volunteers, visitors and employees is a key priority for the Department,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough. “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.”

VA has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and sexual harassment, which means VA expects and actively works to create a culture free of such incidents.

VA believes that reacting to sexual harassment and assault is not enough; instead, VA must achieve and sustain a proactively inclusive culture — supported by veteran and employee-centered policy, operations, engagement, training, and technology — such that VA prevents sexual harassment and sexual assault and ensures an excellent experience for each person VA serves and employs.

In addition to implementing this hotline, VA has taken many steps in recent years to prevent and address sexual harassment and sexual assault at VA facilities, and to support survivors.

These steps include designating points of contact at VA facilities to accept reports of harassment from veterans and visitors; implementing veteran safety surveys; providing bystander intervention training for staff and Veterans; encouraging employees and veterans to take the White Ribbon VA Pledge to never commit, excuse, or stay silent about sexual harassment, sexual assault, or domestic violence; and requiring facility remediation plans for those that obtain five or more founded sexual assault or sexual harassment incidents during a fiscal year.

VA also has an active Secretary’s Working Group on Sexual Assault and Harassment Prevention — a group of Veterans Service Organization representatives, advocates, State Directors of Veterans Affairs, tribal representatives, VA employees serving in a personal capacity, and survivors of sexual assault and harassment.

The input of this group, in addition to VA’s ongoing veteran engagement and outreach efforts, is informing VA’s way forward.

MyVA411 was launched in 2019 and served more than 1.5 million Veterans in fiscal year 2022. Customer Service Representatives answer inquiries, provide directory assistance, document concerns about VA care, benefits, and services, and expedite the referral and resolution of those concerns in addition to processing sexual harassment and sexual assault reports.

To learn more about reporting incidents of sexual harassment or sexual assault, visit VHA’s Assault and Harassment Prevention Office website. For more information about the MyVA411 contact line, visit 1-800-MyVA411: One phone number to reach VA.

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