|Posted:||March 22, 2021 04:40 PM|
|From:||Senator Katie J. Muth|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Resolution designating the week of April 18th through the 24th as a Time to Acknowledge Sexual Assault Survivors in the Military|
|I am introducing a resolution designating the week of April 18th through the 24th as a time to acknowledge sexual assault survivors in the military.
The Department of Defense’s 2018 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military revealed that 20,500 service members, comprised of 13,000 women and 7,500 men, were victims of military sexual assault. Shame and stigma create a barrier to reporting. On average, only one out of every three survivors come forward to report the assault. In an investigation report released in December 2020 by the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee, findings showed “strong evidence that incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Ft. Hood are significantly underreported” and that the “Command climate at Fort Hood has been permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault.”
Even though women make up only 20% of the military, they are the targets of 63% of assaults. However, this is not only a women’s issue, as more than 100,000 men have been sexually assaulted in the military in recent decades.
In today's military, rape culture is an epidemic; and, all too often our survivors are forgotten. Many of the survivors, prior to being assaulted, had dreams of serving for 20+ years and were happy in their workplace. Experiencing sexual violence takes that future and security away. While some may choose to stay in the military, the psychological impact of the assault and resulting trauma can push survivors out of the service and lead to tremendous difficulty readjusting to their civilian lives.
Lauren DelRicci, a Pittsburgh Navy Veteran, described her experience with the following: “After experiencing a Military Sexual Trauma (MST) during my first year overseas, I was processed out after only three years of service. Now, at 37 years old, when I would have retired from the Navy had I stayed in, I find myself looking back regretfully. It is crucially important to have resources available to support MST victims, both active duty and veterans, so they might not feel as alone and abandoned as I once did.”
It is not just the assault that is traumatic, but everything that follows. For those who choose to report the assault, it can be a very difficult and isolating path to walk, often alone or with little support.
Timothy Jones, also a Pittsburgh Navy Veteran, walked this path and has this to say about the progression of services and awareness for survivors of military sexual assault, "Twenty years ago, twenty minutes altered my life. I was completely shattered. We didn't talk about Military Sexual Trauma or its effects. Today, we have come so far in services and awareness. However, we have so much further to go. This recognition will not change what happened. However, it does show those still suffering that we are not alone. That we have support."
We hope that by highlighting this epidemic, we can begin a conversation at the state-level to bring about meaningful change and healing to those affected by military sexual trauma.
In Pennsylvania, local Vet Centers and VA Medical Centers are able to offer resources for those that survived military sexual trauma. Please click here to find your local Vet Center, or here to contact a VA Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator. Also please refer to the RISE: Rank & File website for upcoming events and resources for the survivor community.
We must honor the strength, resolve, and perseverance of these survivors and work urgently to end sexual violence in the military and all around the world. Please join me in acknowledging these service members by co-sponsoring this important resolution.
Introduced as SR66