WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 671, the Ruth Moore Act of 2013. The bill is designed to push the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to update its regulations in order to better serve victims of military sexual trauma (MST). More specifically, the bill seeks to have MST specified as an in-service stressor and that updated regulations also recognize the full range of physical and mental disabilities that may result from sexual assault. Consideration of H.R. 671, which was introduced by Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine-01), was managed on the House floor by the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Rep. Mike Michaud (Maine-02), the committee’s top Democrat and home state colleague of Pingree, delivered remarks today in support of the bill:
“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.
“These veterans’ disabilities were not the result of fire from the enemy. They are not a result of injuries incurred during training. They are the result of the Armed Services’ continual failure to systematically address the culture that perpetuates sexual assaults in the military. This situation is unconscionable and unacceptable. We must act.
“With this legislation, we hope to ensure that the VA helps these disabled veterans. We have a duty to make these men and women’s lives a little better. They never should have had to deal with these events in their service to our nation, and they should never have to struggle to get care and benefits after they leave.”
The Ruth Moore Act is named after Ruth Moore, a constituent of Michaud’s who was raped in the military and struggled with the VA for over 20 years to access benefits.
A section-by-section description of the bill can be found here.