Walorski sponsors bill to enhance benefits for survivors of military sexual trauma
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) on Jan. 23 sponsored a bipartisan bill to aid United States military members in seeking treatment for sexual trauma.
“This bipartisan bill will help survivors of military sexual trauma by expanding eligibility for travel benefits when they need to travel long distances to receive care,” said Rep. Walorski.
Specifically, H.R. 713 would make veterans eligible to receive travel benefits to seek treatment or care for military sexual trauma in specialized outpatient or residential programs at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, among other purposes, according to the congressional record summary.
“Keeping our promise to our nation’s veterans is not just about providing the best possible care – it’s about making sure veterans can access the treatment and services they need, regardless of their geographic location or their distance from VA facilities,” Rep. Walorski said.
H.R. 713, which is cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), also would permit reimbursement to veterans who have to travel outside their Veterans Integrated Service Network when seeking treatment related to military sexual trauma, according to Rep. Walorski’s Jan. 23 statement.
“Survivors of military sexual trauma should never face unnecessary barriers to overcoming their physical and psychological pain,” she said.
The VA currently provides counseling, health care and other services to veterans who experienced military sexual trauma, which is suffered by roughly one in four women and one in 10 men seeking VA care, according to department data.
In fiscal year 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) received more than 6,700 reports of sexual assault involving U.S. service members, almost a 10 percent increase over 2016, according to DOD.
“The prevalence of sexual trauma in the military is outrageous,” Rep. Kuster said. “It’s critical that survivors are able access care that will help them recover from this trauma.”
H.R. 713 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.