Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr sees a proposed federal pilot program as a step to provide better care for military veterans who have suffered sexual assault while in service.
The Republican representative detailed the Military Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment Act in Frankfort Friday.
Deputy Commissioner of Kentucky Veterans Affairs Heather French-Henry served on the task force charged with helping to create the legislation addressing military sexual trauma.
“While we have known about MST for many, many years. It’s not time to walk the walk instead of talk the talk and finally get a concrete plan in place together to move forward,” said French-Henry. We simply cannot any longer to provide the unique individualized services that these heroes need.”
The proposed legislation would allow military victims to receive medical services at non-VA facilities. It calls for establishing such pilot programs in five locations across the U.S. Congressman Barr says the bill calls for one of those programs to be placed in Kentucky.
A victim of military sexual assault says federal VA medical facilities are often not the best environments to receive needed physical and mental treatment. Susan Moseley brought her concerns to Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr four years ago.
She was among those with Barr in Frankfort as he unveiled details of the Military SAVE Act. Moseley says she’s not saying the VA is bad, but just not the appropriate setting for this type of care.
“You’re surrounded by people who can trigger you. That’s my experience. I don’t know about others, but for me, walking into the VA is very overwhelming for me because I’m around all of these men, who many of them had high rank, so that in and of itself is a triggering event for me,” explained Moseley.
As to reducing sexual assaults in the military, Deputy Commissioner of Kentucky Veterans Affairs Heather French-Henry said offering more extensive services might encourage the Department of Defense to have a broader conversation on how it’s protecting its troops.