Bill Introduced To Help Military Sexual Assault Survivors Get Disability Benefits
Yesterday afternoon, two Democratic politicians introduced the Ruth Moore Act, a bill to support former service members who survived sexual assault in the military. Veterans Affairs has long rejected disability claims of military sexual trauma (MST) for troops who were raped by colleagues and now need assistance. According to the Service Women’s Action Network, only one in three claims of PTSD from MST were approved by the VA between 2008 to 2010, presumably because the threshold was too high for these survivors to been seen as eligible.
The bill clarifies the documentation about their assault that survivors need to establish for the VA — namely, clarifying that an official record of the assault from the police or medical reports are not necessary. The overall intention of the Ruth Moore Act is to cut red tape that has caused many survivors to go without treatment, because their assault was unreported, mishandled by the military or because they lacked the documentation.
This piece of legislation is named for Ruth Moore, who three decades ago joined the Navy at age 18 and was repeatedly raped by a superior. Moore reported her rape to authorities and was then raped again in retaliation. After attempting to commit suicide, Moore was discharged from the Navy and misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Due to that misdiagnosis and mishandling of her assaults, Moore has struggled for disability benefits from the VA for the PTSD she has suffered.