(Washington, D.C) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, issued the following statement today after a new study revealed that one in seven female veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq report being victims of sexual assault or harassment when receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“When brave women chose to sacrifice for our country they should be protected. Yet as this study reveals, far too many women are returning home from service with the devastating wounds of Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD. It’s simply unacceptable.
“While DOD has taken some steps to address this serious problem, clearly there is still much more work to be done. DOD must take a comprehensive, top-down approach to changing the culture that allows these problems to continue. That means ensuring that every commander in the field understands and enforces current policies, that women are given the protection they need to report the actions of supervising officers, and that any retaliation against them for coming forward is met with swift punishment.
“This study makes clear the need for a VA that is prepared to deal with the unprecedented number of women seeking care. That’s why I have introduced legislation that ensures the VA health care system is tailored to meet the unique needs of our women veterans. My legislation requires that the VA implement a program to train, educate, and certify VA mental health professionals to care for women with Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD. In the upcoming Congress, I will work to pass this critical legislation so that our women veterans return to a VA ready to meet their needs.”
For more information on Senator Murray’s Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act visit: http://murray.senate.gov/veterans/women-vets.pdf