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Public Statements

Ruth Moore Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MICHAUD. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I wholeheartedly support H.R. 671, the Ruth Moore Act of 2013. This bill was introduced by my colleague and good friend of mine from the State of Maine, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. It is named after a constituent of mine, Ruth Moore.

This important legislation seeks to better serve those men and women who have become victims of military sexual trauma. This legislation makes clear that we expect the VA to update its regulations in regards to military sexual trauma, which we believe are outdated and do not reflect the needs of those who are living through this awful experience. This bill would encourage the VA to update its regulations to ensure that military sexual trauma is specified as an in-service stressor and that those updated regulations also recognize the full range of physical and mental disabilities that may result.

Mr. Speaker, VA did the right thing by our Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange by updating their regulations. We expect VA to also do the right thing by veterans who have been suffering from military sexual trauma.

H.R. 671, as amended, contains language to ensure VA follows through on the requirement to do better by those who have suffered military sexual trauma. It will dramatically increase the reporting requirements of VA in the event that these regulations are not updated within 15 months in an appropriate manner.

Let's be clear: Congress disagrees with VA's assessment that MST is being adjudicated effectively. We expect VA to take a good, hard look at this issue and update its regulations in a timely fashion. We will be watching, and we will be having oversight hearings to make sure that the reporting requirements are upheld.

I would urge my colleagues to support passage of H.R. 671, the Ruth Moore Act.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MICHAUD. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

In closing, today, we can take a meaningful step to ensure the VA better serves veterans who were subject to sexual trauma while serving in our military. These veterans' disabilities were not the result of fire from the enemy, and they were not the result of injury incurred during training. They were the result of the armed services' continual failure to systematically address the culture of sexual assault in the military.

This situation is unacceptable and unconscionable, and we must act. With this legislation, we hope to ensure that the VA helps these disabled veterans. We have a duty to make the lives of these men and women a little better. They never should have had to deal with these events in the service of our Nation anyway, so I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation.

I also want to thank the chairman of the full committee and the chairman of the subcommittee and their staffs for their hard work in bringing this bill before the floor for us to vote on today. I know the committee staffs on both sides of the aisle have worked very hard to amend this bill so that it's acceptable to both sides of the aisle. I thank the chairman for all his hard efforts, not only on this legislation, but also on legislation as it affects veterans and their families throughout the country.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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