Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee, today introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to better support survivors of military sexual trauma.
While significant improvements have been made to the resources available to survivors, resource gaps remain – most significantly during the period of transition from active duty to veteran. Furthermore, focus groups conducted by the Women Veterans Task Force and Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service found that many active duty servicemembers remain unaware that they are eligible for VA resources, such as Vet Centers and military sexual trauma residential treatment programs. Without this critical information, survivors are left without support during their service and during what can be an extremely difficult transition to civilian life.
“We can’t continue to let our veterans and survivors just fall through the cracks,” Rep. Speier said. “The programs we have created to support survivors are only as good as our efforts to connect survivors with those services. There is no question; we must ensure continuity of care. When the chips are down, and we’re facing crises and fights across the globe, our veterans were willing to answer the call to duty with courage and conviction. We must show them that same courtesy and dedication when they need it most.”
“Congresswoman Speier is a tireless champion for ending military sexual assault and supporting our servicemembers who live with military sexual trauma,” Rep. Brownley said. “I’m proud to join with her today to introduce this bill that will ensure the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs better coordinate support and services for MST survivors.”
The Supporting Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma Act of 2020 directs the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs to work together to develop and implement a plan to maintain a standard of coordinated care for survivors of military sexual trauma throughout the transition off active duty. The bill sets specific requirements to ensure that survivors are aware of the services available, and that the departments work together to close gaps in resources.
The bill also requires that the departments submit annual reports back to Congress on their progress.
A copy of the bill text can be found attached to this press release below.
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