Washington, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Health of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing focused on examining the care and treatment available to survivors of military sexual trauma (MST). The subcommittee also examined the coordination of care and services offered to victims of MST through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD). A photo from today’s hearing is attached.
“Many who have suffered through an ordeal such as sexual assault often times are reluctant to discuss their situation and seek help,” said Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Julia Brownley. “Those that finally gather the courage to speak up find that they are often dismissed or treated indifferently, unjustly becoming the victim again. This has to stop—their needs must be put first. This committee is committed to staying on this issue and ensuring that all victims receive the care they need.”
Earlier this year, DOD reported that an estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact occurred in 2012, which is up dramatically from 19,000 reported the year before. Additionally, only 13.5% of incidents are reported. DOD also pointed out that a majority of the victims are men (53%).
MST victims often continue to experience debilitating physical and mental symptoms, which can follow them throughout their lives. The House of Representatives has already passed the Ruth Moore Act (H.R. 671), which the Veterans’ Affairs Committee marked up and passed earlier this year to push the VA to update its regulations in order to better serve victims of MST. The Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (H.R. 1593) was also introduced and has been referred to the Armed Service Committee. Ranking Member Brownley is a cosponsor of both bills.