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White Ribbon Pledge to end harassment

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VA’s universal screening program indicates approximately one in three women and one in 50 men report experiencing military sexual trauma (MST). The National Institute of Health reports continued concerns about the persistence of MST and sexual orientation discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identities (LGBTQ+) service members.

MST includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic or intimate partner violence. Among Veterans, MST is associated with a wide range of mental and physical health conditions that can negatively affect many aspects of their lives. To reduce these burdens on Veterans, families, survivors, caregivers and VA employees, VA has deepened its commitment to ending MST across its network.

The National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP) helps to expand VA’s efforts through White Ribbon VA, a partnership between VA, White Ribbon USA and the National Association of Social Workers. White Ribbon VA promotes the Stand Up to Stop Harassment Now Campaign, a national pledge campaign to end sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence while encouraging a culture of gender equity, collaboration, integrity and compassion.

VA integrated this pledge in onboarding, training and outreach materials. As of December 2022, more than 300,000 Veterans, VA employees and community partners publicly declared their promise to never commit, excuse or stay silent about sexual harassment. Dr. Shereef Elnahal, under secretary for Health, took the White Ribbon VA pledge during his swearing-in ceremony on July 25, 2022.

“It is simply the right thing to do.”

“White Ribbon VA is a call to action that unifies VA employees, Veterans and our community partners to never commit, excuse or remain silent again about sexual harassment, sexual assault or domestic violence against others,” said Lelia Jackson, VA director of the Assault and Harassment Prevention. “It is simply the right thing to do.”

“HAP is committed to facilitating partnerships and initiatives that foster equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging of all Veterans,” said Chien Chen, HAP chief officer and nurse executive. “Together, with the community, we can advocate for the needs of our Veterans in addressing sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence.”

How you can pledge, too

Individuals are invited to pledge their commitment at White Ribbon VA Pledge. Pledging can be done through various channels: Veterans, VA employees and community partners can complete the pledge online, via social media or during live audience events. VA employees can also document their commitment through the VA Talent Management System module titled “White Ribbon VA: What it Means for Our VA Community.” This multi-faceted approach ensures that individuals can easily make their commitment known and actively participate in the campaign, fostering a culture of respect and safety within the VA community.

Although eliminating MST is a complex and ongoing process, VA is committed to creating a culture of respect and psychological safety. The VA mental health website provides resources and support related to MST and VA services, including MST brochures and fact sheets.

There are videos on MST, its impact on survivors and available VA services. Make the Connection is an online resource designed to connect Veterans and their communities with valuable information, resources and solutions about issues affecting their lives. The website offers Veterans stories about recovery from MST and provides additional resources and support. MST Coordinators at VA health care facilities are prepared to provide guidance tailored to the needs of those seeking assistance.

For more information about HAP, visit https://www.va.gov/HEALTHPARTNERSHIPS/index.asp.

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