Walorski testifies on bipartisan bill to aid survivors of military sexual trauma
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswomen Jackie Walorski (IN-02) testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Health regarding H.R.2974, a bill she authored with Annie Kuster (NH-02). This legislation, which has strong bipartisan support, makes victims of military sexual trauma (MST) eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiary travel benefits, which would ensure travel expenses are covered for veterans seeking treatment for MST through the VA.
“A veteran should never have to skip treatment for conditions related to MST due to distance or a lack of transportation,” stated Walorski. “I applaud VA’s commitment to provide counseling and treatment for our men and women struggling with the physical and psychological trauma associated with MST. However, it is vital that veterans are able to access these important resources and services. Survivors of MST should not feel re-traumatized and helpless because of geographic barriers to treatment.”
Lisa Wilken, a Hoosier Air Force veteran who was sexually assaulted during her military service, strongly supports Congresswoman Walorski’s bill to increase accessibility to treatment. “Transportation and geographic issues should not be barriers to treatment for MST. If eligibility requirements for care are waived in cases of MST, transportation costs should be covered, too. This legislation is a step in the right direction to help ensure that veterans who have experienced MST get the treatment, care, and follow-up services they need,” said Wilken.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 100 men screen positive for military sexual trauma. The VA provides counseling, care, and services to veterans and certain other servicemembers who may not have veteran status, but who experienced MST while serving on active duty or active duty for training.
Walorski’s bipartisan legislation has gained strong support from several organizations, including Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), VetsFirst, Service Women’s Action Network, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG).