Congress Moves to Prevent Sexual Assaults at VA Facilities

01 Sep 2011

A number of incidents of rape involving female veterans in psychiatric treatment facilities have alerted California veteran’s benefits lawyers and lawmakers to the need for strong action. Veterans Affairs representatives informed a congressional panel earlier this week that the agency is currently making improvements to better protect patients inside these facilities from assaults.

According to a review by the Government Accountability Office, between January 2007 and July 2010, there were at least 67 reports of alleged rapes at a VA intreatment psychiatric ward residential living facilities. In all these incidents, the accused were veterans and staff members. Most of the victims were female.

The Government Accountability Office report found that many of these facilities depended on patients to coming forward to identify themselves as offenders. This often didn't happen, and as a result, other patients were placed in danger.

Besides, the Government Accountability Office also found other conditions at the facilities that increased the risk of sexual assault and rape. For instance, it found that many of the cameras in the facilities were not working. Also, the procedures in place to report crimes were simply ineffective. Whenever such crimes occur, they're often not reported to the right authorities in the system.
 
According to the Government Accountability Office, part of the problem is that the agency has very fluid definitions of what constitutes assault. Besides, there are no clear rules for reporting, and as a result, many assaults are not reported to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
It is an example of the kind of VA incompetence that California VA disability lawyers often find. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been ineffective in providing the kind of psychiatric care that our men and women receive after they return from duty.