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:

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By Calvin Wong is an intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. He studies History as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis.

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Published on Apr. 25, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

Views to date: 437


  1. Donna April 27, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    Leadership needs to be held accountable! Harassment is happening everywhere at VA hospitals and no one is being held responsible! I could also go on for days about patients being abusive towards me. I know I’m not alone, and yet we should go there as patients???? So sad that us females will never be treated as equals, not in the military or at the VA. I got so tired of fighting for my rights every single day.

  2. Mark April 27, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    A HAS supervisor at SDVA told me to go in time out. I tried to leave the office, she move to stand in front of the door. I explained to her if she wanted me in time out, then I was leaving to do so. She again prevented me from leaving, trapping me in the office. When she finally allowed me to leave I yell that any further discussion needed to be done with our Director. Federal police wrote me a ticket for disruptive behavior, refuse to listen to mybsidevof what happened. I had to find forms myself to write a statement. I filed a disruptive behavior report on her, nothing was done. My department did nothing to address. If I as a male did that to a subordinate I would have been arrested and fired.

    As a member of the GLBTQ+ community. I have been call slurs by patients & treated. DBR done, nothing done at the VA.

    While serving my country 20 yrs I was raped by a fellow service member. Given poor evals even though inwas the only tech in department qualified to preformed specific lab tests; when questioned I was physically threatened &my career.

    My friend RM3 Allen Schindler was beaten beyond recognition and Navy tried to cover up, lied and let one of his murderers off and the other even with life sentence, allowed to parole board. I was harassed for 2 yrs by NCIS.

    At Keflavic, i was told I better not plan on making rank, because it will never happen. Was recognized by CO, base CO & 2 NAMs, again eval I was of a average sailor.

    Better yet, deployed to Afghanistan my laptop was illegal hacked and was threatened for 6 months to be shot in head by GunneySgt. On return to 1stMedBn, the BDS “lost” my medical records. 2 surgeries, a back injury (2 bulging disks )with 6m PysTherapy and a limited duty board were in that volume denying my ability to apply for disability.

    Mental Health is a joke. Anxiety disorder my -ss… all that above sh-t more like PTSD. Lost my partner of 25 yrs, jobs friends because of my “Anxiety”

    How about SDVA requiring unnessarry requirements to get prophylactic Prep treatment. Infection disease refuses to contact you by your preferred method & then lie that you fail to respond. Bullsht SDVA cares about GLBTQ+ vets when out of the tens of thousands of vets only 130 have been allowed Prep. Sht this facility hasn’t even given proper training to primary care providers on how to provide health care services to my community.

  3. Mark April 27, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    Oh how about all the hate speech & harassment on VA’s social media sites, especially Facebook directed at GLBTQ+ Community? Never any VA department removing the hateful sht. Even when you report it, make complaints to White House hotline.

  4. Dolores Beers April 27, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    I was assaulted while serving in Italy by a Naval Officer there was a Admirals Mast he was found guilty but he got off with a slap on the hand and till this day I am still being tortured by the VA so it is all baloney they are not trying to improve the health of women veterans accepts…My primary dr told me to start wearing special underpants for my incontinence issues..I am 57….go figure

  5. A Fitch April 26, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Same here. I was a veteran and was assaulted by a patient. Was getting therapy there for military MST. But all stopped when I got assaulted at work. I was suffering from anxiety and severe nausea. Workers comp didn’t help because that physician was a former employee. I also had to leave because leadership stuck their heads in the sand and ignored everything. I also worked at that VA for 5years.

    • Donna April 27, 2022 at 9:39 pm

      I’m so sorry that happened to you too.

  6. A Fitch April 26, 2022 at 10:50 am

    VA Oklahoma City may say no assault or harassment but it’s only words. They change paperwork to show touching versus assault to cover up true crime. Female patients are minimal due to comments and employee’s deal with assault routinely. They do not intend to stop any of it. Look at the records and speak to former victims. Find out for yourself.

    • Donna April 27, 2022 at 9:40 pm

      Same in Madison WI

  7. Donna J Setz April 26, 2022 at 10:18 am

    I was harassed by male veterans who were patients, literally everyday, for the 5 years I worked at a VA Hospital AND I was a retired veteran myself! I finally reached my breaking point as I had NO support from leadership when I did report the harassments and I literally walked out one day and never went back. I still go there as a patient, but only during Covid, so I am scared to go back when the climate goes back to normal. Leadership could care less.

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