#275 Benefits Breakdown, Office of Harassment and Assault Prevention
This week’s Borne the Battle–a benefits breakdown—features the Office of Harassment and Assault Prevention. The office’s goal is simple: All those who visit a VA facility should be treated with dignity and respect.
However, recognizing how harassment or assault can manifest and what you can do to combat it may be less simple.
Lelia Jackson, Marine Corp Veteran and director of the Office of Harassment and Assault, joins this week’s episode of Borne the Battle to discuss some difficult and even uncomfortable topics related to sexual harassment and assault. Topics include:
- Listening to some first-hand accounts of Veterans being sexually harassed or assaulted to show how hostile situations can manifest and how the victim feels in the moment.
- The cultural and generational influences that limit how some Veterans understand sexual harassment and assault and how to help them expand their worldviews.
- The different ways Veterans can combat sexual harassment and assault.
Jackson firmly believes that the path to eliminating sexual harassment and assault in VA facilities necessitates having these tough conversations. Research indicates that 25.2% of women Veterans who routinely use VA primary care clinics reported facing inappropriate or unwarranted comments by male Veterans on VA grounds. And there are likely many more unreported cases and unaccounted instances where male Veterans face sexual harassment and assault. The path to elimination requires education.
One way Jackson’s office educates Veterans is through their comprehensive Bystander Intervention Training for Veterans. The engaging 30-minute training teaches participants how to recognize hostile situations, the many ways of responding to them and how to get help.
Jackson’s office also promotes the White Ribbon VA pledge. For her, the VA pledge is special because it recognizes that sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence affect people of all genders.
Importantly, every Veteran should report every instance of sexual harassment and assault they face. If you are a Veteran who has been sexually harassed or assaulted at a VA medical facility, contact one of the following for assistance:
- VA Police.
- Patient Advocate.
- Your Primary Care Provider.
Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:
- Air Force Veteran Rosemary Hogan Luciano
- Jackson’s office partnered with the VA Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program to combat the rise of domestic violence seen over the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out our podcast episode with that program here.
- April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and VA, as it is year-round, is ready to offer mental health support and services. Learn more here.
- VA issues Notice of Funding Opportunity for Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program