Tester: Treat all veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress equally

Senator introduces legislation aiding military’s sexual trauma victims

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester has introduced a bill making it easier for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder related to sexual trauma to receive VA benefits.

Under current rules, most veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress can receive VA health care benefits if they provide a diagnosis connected to their military service.  But currently survivors of sexual trauma when serving in the military must also provide a higher standard of evidence, even though the vast majority of rape and sexual assault in the military goes unreported.

Tester’s Fairness for Survivors of Military Trauma Act, which is supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Service Women’s Action Network and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, eliminates this difficult bureaucratic hurdle, putting victims of sexual trauma under the same umbrella as other victims of service-related trauma.

Carla Lott, a veteran and coordinator for the Montana National Guard’s Survivor Outreach Services, said Tester’s bill is an important accomplishment.

“Senator Tester continues to prove his support of veterans within the state of Montana and across our great nation, and now with his proposed bill to ensure the well being and treatment of our female veterans who have suffered a military sexual trauma, he is proving that he is a proponent and continual supporter of all aspects of the veteran population,” Lott said. “Our women warriors deserve our care and concern, as we have benefited from their self-less service.”

“We have a responsibility to meet the needs of all victims of service-related trauma,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “This legislation is simply a matter of fairness to make sure these veterans aren’t forced to jump through additional hoops.”

Between 2002 and 2008, 66,432 women reported some form of military sexual trauma, even though it often goes unreported.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, has introduced a House version of Tester’s Fairness for Survivors of Military Trauma Act.  Pingree praised Tester for introducing the Fairness for Survivors of Military Trauma Act in the Senate.

“Senator Tester is good friend to veterans and he understands that victims of military sexual assault haven’t been getting a fair shake and it’s time to change the way we treat them,” Pingree said.

The legislation is available online HERE.