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Public Statements

Military Sexual Assault

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. KUSTER. Mr. Speaker, sexual assault in the military has reached a crisis point. A recent report from the Department of Defense found that the number of servicemembers who have experienced unwanted sexual contact has increased by more than 30 percent over the past 2 years, from 19,000 to 26,000 people.

These numbers are staggering, but they're more than just statistics. Behind every number is the story of a member of our armed services who stepped forward to serve our country. They're people like my constituent, Judy Atwood-Bell, a Hudson, New Hampshire, resident who enlisted in the Army at age 17 to further her education and live the American Dream. At 19, Judy was raped by a fellow soldier and suffered sexual harassment in silence throughout her career. After 20 years of service, she sought help and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD related to military sexual trauma.

Our military leadership, the chain of command, and the Veterans Administration failed to protect Judy and thousands of victims like her who suffered from sexual assault. We owe it to Judy and every other survivor to come together in a bipartisan manner to confront this epidemic head on.

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