Senator’s legislation cuts red tape at the VA, helps survivors receive the care they need
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the bipartisan Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act, which ensures that veterans who have been the victims of sexual trauma have access to the health care and mental health services they need.
“Veterans who have experienced sexual trauma shouldn’t have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get the benefits they earned,” said Sinema, who serves on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’ll keep working to support survivors and increase access to critical care.”
Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes, and there is often no documented evidence to support veterans’ claims when they seek benefits at the VA. Sinema’s bipartisan bill will allow the VA to accept proof of sexual trauma even without an official record from the Department of Defense, as long as impacted veterans display evidence of trauma and have an appropriate diagnosis from a mental health professional. It also allows veterans to provide records from mental health counseling centers, hospitals, physicians as well as statements from family members, roommates, or clergy as evidence to support their claim. This ensures coverage for those experiencing sexual trauma who may not have felt comfortable reporting the crime through official channels.