According to Hometown Source, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Claire Catskill (D-MO) introduced bipartisan legislation to assist victims of sexual assault in the military. Military sexual trauma is the phrase used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to describe assault or repeated and threatening sexual harassment that occurred while a veteran was in the military. A recent data shows that the U.S. Department of Defense received $3,158 reports of sexual misconduct and harassment in the military in 2010.
The Pentagon estimates this represents only 13% of actual cases, as most cases go unreported to a military authority. Earlier this year, the American Legion surveyed female veterans and found that 40 percent of females were dissatisfied with the VA’s screening process for military sexual misconduct.
The Support of Survivors Act would assist service members who were victims of sexual trauma during their military service. The act would require life-long storage of all documents and reports of sexual assaults and sexual harassment across the military branches. Currently, the military has no coordinated policy to ensure the preservation of medical and other relevant records connected with sexual trauma reports.
Each service branch has its own policy which leads to inconsistent record keeping and records are often being destroyed. Long-term preservation of records would help victims pursue legal action against those sexually harassing them and records can also be used as evidence in a crime involving the same perpetrator.