U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, underscored today in a subcommittee hearing on military sexual assaults the importance of the Ruth Moore Act of 2013. The act, named after veteran Ruth Moore of Milbridge who was twice raped during her service in the U.S. Navy, would make it easier for victims of military sexual assault to obtain the benefits they deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Witness BriGette McCoy a former specialist in the U.S. Army who was also sexually assaulted during her service, told Senator King that it took her 22 years to receive benefits related to the sexual trauma she sustained.
"Our country is letting you down in three places," responded Senator King. "First by the perpetrator, second by the military while you're there, and third by the VA."
Additionally, Senator King asked Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Service Women's Action Network, about her thoughts on the Ruth Moore Act. Ms. Bhagwati characterized the legislation as "the easiest thing the Senate can do to alleviate the third betrayal," referencing Senator King's previous statement.
"The military may have betrayed service members but the VA can very easily award compensation which is well-deserved," she continued. "The standard which the Ruth Moore Act lays out would be comparable to the standard for post-traumatic stress that is currently laid out by VA policy for combat-related trauma and this legislation would easily resolve that problem."
After speaking personally with Ruth Moore last Friday, Senator King announced yesterday that he was cosponsoring her namesake legislation:
"Ruth Moore is an inspiring individual," Senator King said. "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."