Critics: promised VA culture change too slow, too limited

| Aug 24, 2020 | Employee Discrimination

On the one hand, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ stressed commitment to “changing the culture” is undoubtedly music to the ears of legions of female critics who lambast the agency.

On the other hand, though, the tune they are hearing is reportedly anything but pleasant.

Here’s why: An agency that has a demonstrated history of problematic behavior toward women states that promised improvements are indeed forthcoming, but that problems like harassment and assault won’t be seriously addressed for several more years.

That go-slow approach was voiced recently to a panel of national lawmakers at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing, and it didn’t exactly garner kudos.

In fact, it bombed, with bipartisan discontent clearly being on display in the wake of acting agency deputy secretary Pam Powers’ statement that limited departmental funding will likely push out necessary changes to 2024.

Legislators on both sides of the political aisle want to see positive agency adjustments, and they want to see them now. They find a number of things disturbing, including evidence revealing this:

  • Sexual harassment inflicted upon close to 25% of the agency’s employees
  • 1,100 days (sometimes more) to process a typical harassment complaint
  • High number of complaints from female veterans underscoring discriminatory treatment in health care settings

“The Department of Veterans Affairs is simply moving too slowly,” stated one panel legislator.

“We are out of time, and we need corrective action now,” stressed another.

The push for an expedited timetable could lead to revised legislation mandating the VA’s stepped-up action. We will keep readers timely apprised of any material developments that arise.

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