Two Republican senators are demanding answers from the Department of Veterans Affairs on "alarming" reports of sexual misconduct at VA.
Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., sent a letter to Secretary Robert Wilkie calling for information to "identify gaps in VA's policies, prevent reoccurrence of such incidents and hold perpetrators accountable."
“The recent incidents indicate that there may be lingering issues within VA policies, procedure and system that must be resolved," the senators wrote. "We are disturbed by these allegations and feel it is essential that we understand better what the VA is doing to address the problems and prevent them from happening in the future.”
The House Veterans Affairs Committee recently passed the omnibus women veterans care bill, the Deborah Sampson Act, which includes a mandate for VA to create a more robust sexual harassment and sexual assault policy systemwide. That bill is headed to the House floor for a vote.
That move followed news that a senior Congressional policy advisor and Navy veteran, Andrea Goldstein, was sexually assaulted at the Washington, D.C. VA.
Sexual assault and misconduct are a major issue at both VA and within the Armed Forces, particularly for women veterans and service members.
National VA data shows that about one in every four women veterans or service members have experienced military sexual trauma, and studies, where participants were allowed to remain anonymous, suggest that number could be even higher.
Overall and despite Pentagon efforts, the number of military sexual assaults rose 38 percent, a survey from earlier this year showed.