WASHINGTON, D.C. -- (News Center) Survivors of sexual assault in the military, members of Congress and activists are gathering today in Washington, D.C. for the second annual Summit on Military Sexual Violence.
One of the Maine Veterans participating is Ruth Moore, who is being given the Voice For Change Award today for her efforts to force the Veterans Administration to approve benefits for military sexual trauma in the same way they do post traumatic stress disorder.
Today's award comes one day congressional hearings began on what is known as the Ruth Moore Act. Moore first told us her story two years ago on the condition we protect her identity. In the mid-1980s, when serving as a meteorologist for the navy, Moore was raped by her immediate supervisor. When she reported it, he raped her again in retaliation. The military and then the VA refused to link her medical and psychological symptoms to the rapes and Moore was denied benefits.
"We suffer injuries - our injuries aren't visible," says Moore. "But as I was told by a representative for the military honor of the purple heart, 'You weren't overseas, you didn't have blood drawn.' Well, yes I was, I was in Portugal and I had a knife wound inflicted."
Now the bill that bears her name is making its way through various Congressional committees and has overwhelming support. It forces the VA to make two fundamental changes: to award benefits in military sexual trauma cases on the same basis they do combat PTSD, and to be accountable to Congress for how they handle MST cases. The VA would have to report how many MST claims are brought forth every year and how many have been approved or denied.
Moore sums it up this way: "We are still patriotic and we serve our country just as well from this battlefield than we ever could have in the military."
If you are a member of the military or a veteran who has been sexually assaulted while serving, call or text the Department of Defense Safe Helpline 1-877-995-5247 or click here for more information.