Washington, DC – Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) released the following statement in response to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of the Inspector General, which found that Secretary Wilkie and senior VA officials failed to adequately respond to accusations of sexual assault at a VA medical center.
“As Chair of the Women Veteran Task Force, I continuously hear about the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault at VA facilities,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “It’s a deeply troubling problem that we know is ingrained in the same culture women face while serving in uniform.
“It should go without saying, but no veteran seeking care should be re-traumatized at a VA facility. This is especially important when the medical attention they need is the result of the experiences they’ve had while putting their lives on the line to protect our country.
“There is so much in this report that leaves me aghast. That leaders at VA, from the Secretary on down, who are entrusted with the responsibility of helping our veterans heal, would actually work to inflict more harm on a veteran is deeply upsetting, but is also a prime example of the enormous challenges we still face in addressing this issue.
“While this report outlines how poorly the Secretary of the VA and his staff treated Andrea Goldstein, a veteran who is working tirelessly to help other veterans, it also highlights how much work we still have to do as a Congress, and as a country, to ensure that everyone who serves our nation in uniform is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
“I agree with Chairman Takano that change must start at the top and that those at VA involved in this sordid affair, including and especially Secretary Wilkie, should resign immediately.”
The report published today by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of the Inspector General delineates several issues with the handling of a female veteran’s allegations of sexual assault while seeking care at a VA facility in Washington, DC.
The findings in the report include:
- Several VA officials improperly questioning the veteran’s credibility and unusual levels of interference of the case by senior VA officials and VA police
- Other reports of sexual misconduct against women veterans at the same VA medical center that have gone unanswered
- VA officials seeking to discredit a veteran’s reputation in order to undermine an investigation
- VA leaders failing to consider or take appropriate corrective action despite having relevant information to do so
Read the full report here.
Issues: 116th Congress, Veterans' Affairs, Women Veterans Task Force