Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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Navy veteran Ruth Moore, a Maine native, testifies Wednesday about being raped by a superior officer when she was 18.
The Associated Press
Ruth Moore, right, is accompanied by her husband, Butch Moore, and daughter Samantha on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
The Associated Press
Essentially, the legislation would bring the standard of proof to the same level required for service members who have PTSD from combat or other causes. From fiscal years 2008 to 2010, only one-third of sexual trauma-related PTSD requests were approved, compared with 54 percent for all other claims, according to figures from the Service Women's Action Network.
Pingree said Wednesday that there has been "a tremendous change in attitude" in the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs toward sexual trauma victims and benefits.
But she said more progress is needed and the VA must start giving victims of sexual trauma the benefit of the doubt.
Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.
Subcommittee members said they had heard talk of "zero-tolerance" policies in the past, yet the vast majority of assaults continue to go unreported and those who seek benefits afterward are still turned away.
After VA officials said existing policies could adequately accommodate disability requests for sexual trauma, subcommittee Chairman Jon Runyan, R-N.J., said more needs to be done.
"If the VA were a private company, you wouldn't be in business very long because you wouldn't have very many happy customers," Runyan said.
After the hearing, Moore and her family lingered in the committee room as people thanked them for making the trip to Washington to testify.
While the emotions of it all were starting to peek through, Moore said she was pleased with the hearing and with her decision to go public with her story.
"The committee was very generous," Moore said. "I think they truly heard the message. I think a lot of good is going to come of this today."
Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:
On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC