December 10, 2020

Chairman Takano: “Secretary Wilkie has lost the trust of all those he is charged to serve & must resign.”

Press Contact

Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)

Miguel R. Salazar 

WASHINGTON, D.C —Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) issued the following statement after the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released their report entitled, “Senior VA Officials’ Response to a Veteran’s Sexual Assault Allegations.”


“It should not need to be said, but due to Secretary Wilkie’s baseless attacks on a fellow veteran and member of my staff, let me say clearly— Andrea Goldstein is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve, an exceptional staffer who works tirelessly not for herself but to improve the lives of all veterans across our country, and a woman of the utmost integrity who embodies all we seek in those who volunteer to serve in our nation’s military.


“The incidents detailed in today’s OIG report were not fabricated or dreamt up as political stunts, and in early 2019, VA's own research found that at least 1 in 4 women veterans experience sexual or gender harassment at VA. Instead of working with me to address an underlying problem at the DC VAMC from the start, Secretary Wilkie and the senior-most officials at VA went out of their way to raise suspicions and cast speculation and doubt about Andrea and the legitimacy of the whole incident. 


“Sadly, this report is emblematic of the well-documented issue of sexual harassment and assault that has festered in our military and polluted the culture at VA. Across our country, countless servicemembers and veterans experience these injustices daily— having their truth questioned and their voices ignored. 


“Never before has our nation’s military or veteran community shied away from the hard battles that must be fought to mold our country into a more perfect union. The tragedies like the murder of SPC Vanessa Guillen and the toxic environment created at bases like Fort Hood are a call to action and proof that we have much work to do to dismantle a culture where sexual harassment and assault are tolerated. 


“As I have said before, VA requires cultural change to put an end to sexual harassment and assault at VA facilities— that change starts at the top. It is clear to me that Secretary Wilkie is not up to that task. He has lost the trust and confidence of all those he is charged to serve. 


“When the most senior leadership of VA are derelict in their duty, refuse to take immediate action to correct glaring deficiencies, and are themselves complicit in attempts to discredit and cast doubt on the facts, they betray the public trust and as a result disqualify themselves from all future public service. 


“For Secretary Wilkie; Acting Deputy Secretary, Pamela Powers; Acting Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Brooks Tucker; Principal Deputy General Counsel Performing the Delegable Duties of the General Counsel, William Hudson, Jr; Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, James E. Hutton; and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Curt Cashour; there is but one remaining course of action— resign, immediately.”