April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and VA North Texas Health Care System is leading by example.

During April, VA raises awareness about sexual violence, how to prevent it and how to support those affected by it. White Ribbon VA supports the national “Stand Up to Stop Harassment Now!” campaign.

Everyone needs to be more sensitive with their words and actions.

White Ribbon VA originated through a partnership between the National Associations of Social Workers and VA. It sheds light on and promotes one of the largest movements to eliminate sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence in VA facilities and surrounding communities.

VA North Texas honored the month by asking its leadership and employees to take their pledge of support.

Opportunity for VA to underscore its zero tolerance

“This is an excellent opportunity for our employees, Veterans and VA partners to pledge personally, publicly, and collectively to never excuse, remain silent, or commit harassment and sexual violence against others,” said Dr. Stephen Holt, VA North Texas Health Care System director. “It is also an opportunity for VA to underscore its zero-tolerance of gender-based harassment and sexual assault.”

According to The National Coalition against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact or sexual violence. They also experience intimate partner stalking with causing injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder or the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

VA North Texas Equal Employment Opportunity manager Deatra Childress created an event that brought awareness to the health care system’s 6,200 employees and more than 2,500 patients who traverse the Dallas VA Medical Center daily.

We all deserve respect regardless of gender

“We want to get the word out,” Childress said. “Everyone needs to be more sensitive with their words and their actions. We need to acknowledge we’re all individuals and deserve the utmost respect regardless of gender.”

Every VA facility has a designated Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST related issues. They help male and female Veterans find and access VA services and programs, state and federal benefits and community resources.

Information about VA health care services for women Veterans can be found here.

Individuals experiencing any form of abuse can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or log on to https://www.thehotline.org to chat with someone online.

Yolonde Rocio is a public affairs specialist with the VA North Texas Health Care System.

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Published on Apr. 22, 2021

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