House Passes Ruth Moore Act of 2013

From the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs;

Bill aims to spur reform of VA claims process for veteran sexual-assault victims

 WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 671, the Ruth Moore Act, by a voice vote.

Introduced by Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), the Ruth Moore Act aims to spur reform of the evidentiary standards for survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) who file claims for mental health conditions with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The ultimate goal of the bill is to make it easier for veteran sexual-assault victims to receive service-connected benefits and treatment for mental-health conditions linked to MST.

“The Department of Defense must take the lead in addressing military sexual trauma throughout the ranks in the strongest possible terms.  Additionally, veterans who have suffered this horrific crime must be completely confident the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide the care, assistance and support these victims deserve. VA’s approach to military sexual trauma claims requires immediate and thoughtful review, and that is precisely what the Ruth Moore Act aims to ensure. I’m proud to join Rep. Pingree, Ranking Member Michaud and a bipartisan majority of Congress in supporting this bill.”

– Chairman Jeff Miller

“VA did the right thing by our Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange by updating their regulations, and we expect VA to also do the right thing by veterans who have suffered from military sexual trauma. We have a duty to make these veterans’ lives a little better. They never should have had to deal with sexual assault in their service to our nation, and they should never have to struggle to get care and benefits after they leave.” – Ranking Member Mike Michaud

“Whether the attack happened on a Navy base in Europe or at a National Guard training facility here in the U.S., whether they were soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines, the story too often has the same ending:  The victims were blamed, the crime was covered up, and the survivors themselves became the subject of further harassment and recrimination.  And too often, what followed was years of mental health issues, lost jobs, substance abuse and homelessness.  These stories don’t have to end this way. With the Ruth Moore Act, we can change the VA's policy so veterans who survive a sexual assault can at least get the benefits they deserve.” – Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-1)