Friday, July 19, 2013

Military Sexual Assault Victim Offers Advice for VA Improvements to House Panel

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, welcomed Hoosier Air Force Veteran Lisa Wilken to our nation’s capital to testify as a military sexual assault victim.

“I applaud the courage and unwavering commitment of brave women like Lisa who are stepping out of the shadows to share their stories and help fellow servicemembers,” said Walorski. “Her invaluable testimony today provides a critical link between Congress and the VA as we work to improve services for sexual assault victims. Lisa’s experience illustrates the chilling reality of military sexual assault that still exists today and must be eradicated.”

The purpose of the hearing was to assess current VA programs for military sexual trauma victims, identifying ways to improve services to meet the current and projected needs of veterans. Wilken stated the VA must focus on meaningful treatments based on the specific needs of military sexual trauma victims, including specialized counseling and therapy.

“Protocol needs to be developed for veterans to ensure that VA employees understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to military sexual trauma,” said Wilken in her testimony. “I hear from many women about how their symptoms are overlooked or even ignored. The VA needs to work on utilizing the local medical community to help deal with much needed treatment improvements.”

Walorski authored a bill to extend whistleblower protections to military sexual assault victims, which unanimously passed the House in June with a vote of 423-0. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and included in the House version of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).


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