NH Air Force veteran speaks at panel discussion on military sexual assault
NASHUA, N.H. —
U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster held a panel discussion in Nashua on Tuesday focused on the need to support survivors of sexual abuse in the military and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Kuster co-chairs the bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence.
“People are nervous about coming forward to identify an assault or something that has happened to them in the workplace because they're worried about the impact that could have on their career,” Kuster said.
U.S. Air Force veteran Denise DeBlois served our country for 22 years and fought in the Gulf War. She now serves as the state commander for the Catholic War Veterans.
DeBlois is a survivor of sexual trauma, and she said it took her a long time to discuss what happened to her.
She said that most of the time, she was the only woman on her flight crew.
“It was very challenging working with all men, and there was a lot of things I had to put up with to stay in that position,” DeBlois said.
She said change is needed in order to better protect our service members from having the same thing happen to them.
“I think change needs to occur as soon as possible. It's going to take a lot of work. It's a serious problem,” DeBlois said.
“Making sure that we're working towards a society where people are not discriminated against,” Kuster said.
DeBlois’ message for other survivors: “Talk to someone, but don't keep it all inside. It eats away at you.”
Earlier this summer, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment from Kuster to study investigations of sexual violence in the military.