December 18, 2020

Chairman Takano Responds to Troubling Reports about VA Town Hall on Military Sexual Trauma

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)

WASHINGTON, D.C —Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) issued the statement below following last night’s VA town hall on Military Sexual Trauma (MST) which reportedly patched countless veterans into the event with little or no warning, without informed consent, leaving many traumatized.


“Despite the superior ability of clinical professionals across the Department to provide specialty care for survivors of military sexual trauma, this incident is indicative of the cultural problems--and general insensitivity to survivors of MST-- that persist, and the fundamental change that is still required to ensure we treat our increasingly diverse veteran population with the dignity and respect they deserve. 


“VA must be held to the highest standard when it comes to addressing sexual harassment and assault across the Department and at all costs avoid re-victimizing and re-exposing veteran survivors of sexual trauma to incredibly painful stories of military sexual assault. Given last night’s town hall, VA has a lot of work to do to rebuild trust and make amends with veterans who were traumatized-- that starts with an apology. While the intentions behind the call may have been laudable, the event itself was poorly executed. 


“This afternoon I spoke with Under Secretary for Benefits Lawrence to address this incident, secure a commitment not to share the full town hall online, that the Committee be provided a transcript and recording of the event, and that future events be postponed until VA can reevaluate the method it uses to communicate with veterans and ensure a safe and welcoming environment.”