Kuster: Action Needed to Address Military Sexual Trauma
During floor speech, highlights story of veteran and MST survivor from Hudson
Washington, DC, May 15, 2013
Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) reiterated her call for action to address the growing epidemic of sexual assault in the military.
Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) yesterday reiterated her call for action to address the growing epidemic of sexual assault in the military. During a speech on the House floor, Kuster highlighted the story of Judy Atwood-Bell, a Hudson, New Hampshire resident and veteran who enlisted in the Army at age 17 and was raped by a fellow soldier when she was just 19 years old.
“Sexual assault in the military has reached a crisis point. A recent report from the DOD found that the number of service members who have experienced unwanted sexual contact has increased by more than 30% over the past two years – from 19,000 to 26,000 people,” Kuster said. “These numbers are staggering – but they’re more than just statistics. Behind every number is the story of a member of our armed services who stepped forward to serve our country.”
“They’re people like Judy Atwood-Bell, a Hudson, New Hampshire resident who enlisted in the Army at age 17 to further her education and live the American dream,” Kuster continued. “At 19, Judy was raped by a fellow solider, and suffered sexual harassment in silence throughout her career. After 20 years of service, she sought help and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD related to military sexual trauma. Our military leadership, the chain of command, and the VA failed to protect Judy and thousands of victims like her who suffered sexual assault. We owe it to Judy—and every other survivor—to come together in a bipartisan manner to confront this epidemic head-on.”
Judy joined the US Army in 1978 at the age of 17. When she was 19 years old, she was raped by a fellow soldier and suffered sexual harassment throughout her career, which included 10 years in active duty and an additional 10 years in the reserves. Since then, Judy has become an advocate for action to help change the way the military deals with sexual assault.
A member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Kuster has repeatedly spoken about the need for action to prevent military sexual trauma, and has cosponsored the following legislation to help address this ongoing epidemic: