U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that he will be cosponsoring S. 294, the Ruth Moore Act of 2013. The legislation, named after veteran Ruth Moore of Milbridge, would make it easier for victims of military sexual assault to obtain the benefits they deserve. Currently, more than 85 percent of all military sexual assaults go unreported, which means veterans have a difficult time meeting the burden of proof when applying for benefits. The Ruth Moore Act would ease the burden of proof by only requiring a medical diagnosis of a mental health condition and a link between an assault and that mental health condition.
Ruth Moore, who personally spoke with Senator King over the phone last Friday to tell him her story, joined the U.S. Navy over two decades ago at the age of eighteen. During her service abroad, she was raped twice by an immediate supervisor. Despite reporting the attack, Moore's perpetrator was never charged or disciplined while she was consequently diagnosed by the military with a mental illness that she never had. The trauma effectively ended her military career while initiating years of pain and suffering. Moore struggled for over two decades to obtain benefits she was owed from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"Ruth Moore is an inspiring individual," said Senator King. "I commend her on her remarkable strength and courage in fighting for victims of military sexual assault. Her story, as painful and as tragic as it is, is a stark reminder of a reality that exists even to this day for some in our military. With thousands of incidents of sexual assault occurring within our ranks every year, many of which go unreported, we must work to not only reduce their occurrence but to also ensure that victims like Ruth are provided the support and benefits that they deserve."
According to the Pentagon, 19,000 sexual assaults occurred in the military in 2010, but only about thirteen percent of victims reported the attacks.