Kuster Votes to Improve Veterans Services for Victims of Military Sexual Trauma
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a meeting of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) voted to advance the Ruth Moore Act, legislation she cosponsored that that would push the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve benefits for survivors of sexual trauma in the military.
“Today, I was proud to join the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee in advancing the Ruth Moore Act with strong bipartisan support,” Kuster said. “I applaud the committee for supporting this critical legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that veterans who have suffered sexual trauma in the military receive the benefits they deserve.”
Kuster also signed onto newly-introduced legislation today to enhance whistleblower protections for service members who report instances of sexual assault in the military. The bipartisan Military Whistleblower Protection Act, introduced by Reps. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) and Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), would strengthen existing protections to clarify that whistleblowers who report military sexual assaults are protected from retaliation.
Today’s actions come in the wake of a new Department of Defense (DoD) report which found that the number of service members anonymously reporting sexual assaults increased by more than 30% over the past two years. According to the report, there were roughly 19,000 cases of military sexual assault in 2011 alone, but fewer than 3,200 were reported. In 2012, the report found that the number of cases grew to 26,000, with fewer than 3,400 cases reported.
Kuster has repeatedly spoken about the need for bipartisan action to address the epidemic of military sexual trauma. Last week, she toured the new women’s center at the White River Junction VA Medical Center and spoke with staff about the need for improved services for MST survivors. In April, Kuster wrote an op-ed focused on the need for bipartisan action to better prevent and respond to sexual assault in the military.
Rob Friedlander, (202) 225-5206