Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today convened a roundtable to address the growing epidemic of sexual assault in the military with key experts and stakeholders from around the Granite State. During the discussion, Kuster addressed efforts currently underway in Congress to address the rise of sexual assaults reported in the military. She was joined by representatives from the New Hampshire National Guard, the White River Junction VA Medical Center, the New Hampshire State Office of Veterans Services, and other advocates and experts, who shared their thoughts and experiences with the issue.
"Sexual assault in the military has reached a crisis point, and it's time for us to come together as a country to make sure it comes to an end," Kuster said. "As we work to find a solution in Congress, I want to make sure I am hearing from people in the Granite State who are concerned about this issue. This epidemic doesn't just affect the victims. It undermines the readiness of our armed forces, and weakens our country as a whole."
Representatives from the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) Initiative also took part in the roundtable, as well as Judy Atwood-Bell, a Hudson resident and 20-year Army veteran, who was raped by a fellow soldier when she was 19 years old.
"To me, it's wonderful that I can communicate with these military leaders, as well as other top officials regarding veterans' needs," Atwood-Bell said. "There are so many veterans out there who are not able to speak for themselves. I am so grateful that Congresswoman Kuster is out there listening and fighting for us. It gives me more hope to fight."
Kuster has consistently spoken about the need for action to put an end to sexual assault in the military. In June, she helped secure passage of bipartisan legislation to enhance whistleblower protections for service members who report instances of sexual assault in the military. Kuster recently toured the new women's center at the White River Junction VA Medical Center and spoke with staff about the need for improved services for survivors of military sexual trauma. In April, Kuster wrote an op-ed focused on the need for bipartisan action to better prevent and respond to sexual assault in the military. Kuster is a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and the bipartisan Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus.