Instances of sexual abuse facing female veterans at VA facilities have been on the rise in recent years. Hundreds of women have reported occurrences of sexual assault during visits at VA facilities. These allegations cover everything from forced medical examinations to rape.
While the Department of Defense (DOD) acknowledges that sexual assault exists in the military and is committed to zero tolerance, it continues to be an underreported crime1. In fact, previous DOD Annual Reports have suggested that about two-thirds of female service members did not report their sexual assault. Rather, some said they wanted to forget about it and move on, did not want more people to know about it, or kept it secret out of shame or embarrassment.
As the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in a 2012 study that one in five women in the United States reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives. But there are no policies by which the VA tackles alleged occurrences of sexual abuse, and this has allowed several hundreds of these cases to remain uninvestigated and unjustified.
According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s (IAVA) most recent survey, 14% of our female members still feel unsafe receiving care in VA facilities.
As the Military Times reports, Air Force veteran Lisa Wilken, chair of the AMVETS National Women Veterans Committee, testified before Congress in the past about problems with VA treatment of military sexual trauma survivors. She was prepared for that conversation, unlike the time the VA called her without warning for a town hall conversation about sexual abuse.
“As a rape survivor, I choose when I want to talk about my trauma,” she said. “So getting an unannounced call wasn’t appreciated at 5 p.m. when I had just started to get dinner started.
“As soon as the sharing started, I hung up because it wasn’t a good time for me to go in that head space. It was insensitive of them to do, even if they mean well. It shows me their efforts are for show and not even well meaning, due to lack of thought.”
Since 9/11, over 700,000 women have served in the U.S. military, the VA maintains. They should not feel like they are risking their physical and mental safety to receive medical care at facilities that are dedicated to serving them.
Women should never have to face sexual abuse when when receiving care — especially those who have dutifully served their country. Click the button below and tell the VA it needs to redesign its policies to support sexual abuse victims!Whizzco