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Public Statements

Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. 1960, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. PINGREE of Maine. Thank you to my good friend for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, as we confront the issue of sexual assault in the military, we can't forget the survivors who continue to serve.

One area that has needed reform is the questionnaire that must be filled out to obtain or renew a security clearance. One of the questions, Question 21, asks if you have ever sought mental health counseling. Knowing the question is there, and believing that answering ``yes'' might jeopardize their chances at a security clearance, survivors of sexual assault often decided not to get the

mental health counseling that they needed.

The Director of National Intelligence has listened to us on this and has issued guidance saying survivors of sexual trauma do not have to report counseling related to that assault. But that change won't do the survivors any good unless they know it has taken place, which is why I've introduced an amendment that is part of a package we are considering later today that would require the Department of Defense to inform servicemembers of this change.

Mr. Speaker, I regularly hear from survivors of sexual assault who want to know when the change will be made. It's time they get their answer.

It's unfortunate that this rule does not allow more time for debate on these critical topics.

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