I am writing in response to the Jan. 8 commentary by Patrisha McLean, “Maine Voices: Sentence in domestic violence killing bodes poorly for women’s safety.”

Research from VA’s National Center for PTSD shows that veterans may be disproportionately affected by intimate partner violence. Alexxndr/Shutterstock.com

The mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs is to care for those “who shall have borne the battle” and for their families, caregivers and survivors. And as part of this mission, we are steadfastly committed to addressing and ending intimate partner violence through giving veterans the tools and support to foster healthy relationships. Since 2014, VA has provided comprehensive and integrated services to veterans and their partners experiencing intimate partner violence via the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program.

This program helps veterans, their partners and VA staff learn about warning signs, at-risk behaviors and how to get help. These services are available to veterans, their partners and even VA staff members who may be affected by any form of intimate partner violence (verbal, emotional, psychological, physical or sexual).

According to VA Care Management and Social Work Executive Director Jill DeBord, approximately one in three women and one in four men in the general population report experiencing intimate partner violence. Research from VA’s National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder shows veterans may be disproportionally affected by intimate partner violence.

VA’s dedication to this issue goes beyond the current programs and services we offer. Recently, VA initiated a pilot program to improve services to veterans who have experienced or are experiencing intimate partner violence or sexual assault. This two-year initiative was launched at 10 VA medical facilities across the nation, with a focus on strengthening community partnerships. It will also provide training for VA staff and community partners, identify effective clinical interventions and provide outreach to underserved areas and populations.

The pilot program, which stems from the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, Title 5 Deborah Sampson Act, will allow us the opportunity to better understand and address intimate partner violence and sexual assault among the veteran population.


We encourage your readers who are experiencing intimate partner violence, at risk of using intimate partner violence or concerned about someone else to contact their local VA Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program coordinator, primary care social worker or other provider, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY). Women veterans enrolled in VA care can also reach out to their Women Veterans Program Manager.

In addition to VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program services, veterans who are victims of domestic violence during military service and develop subsequent physical or mental conditions may be eligible for VA disability compensation. These veterans can apply for disability compensation for any current condition caused or worsened by military service, including conditions related to sexual assault or harassment or domestic violence experienced during their time in service.

Veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma and have a current disability are encouraged to file a claim online. For assistance in filing a claim, veterans may also:

• Appoint a Veterans Service Organization.

• Contact a local military sexual trauma outreach coordinator.

• Call 1-800-827-1000.

 In the mission to end intimate partner violence, VA is here to help. For more information about available supportive services, visit VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program or VA’s Military Sexual Trauma Program.

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