June 10, 2015

Assembly Passes Legislation to Provide Assistance to Veterans Suffering from Military Sexual Trauma

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Subcommittee on Women Veterans Chair Addie Russell today announced the passage of legislation aimed at assisting New York's men and women veterans who are suffering from military sexual trauma (MST) (A7260, Russell). The Assembly also passed a resolution declaring Friday, June 12 as Women Veterans Recognition Day in New York State (K00664, Russell). June 12 marks the 67th anniversary of President Harry S.Truman signing into law the Women's Armed Services Act of 1948, insuring that women would have a permanent place in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

"Service men and women put their lives on the line to protect our country. It is our duty to do as much as we can to ensure that these courageous people do not face undue hardships such as military sexual trauma," said Speaker Heastie. "This legislation would provide the veterans who have sacrificed so much with the help they need to heal from traumatic MST experiences."

This legislation would require the New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs to develop and encourage plans for assistance and benefits for veterans who suffered military sexual trauma. MST covers any sexual activity where someone is involved against his or her will, including unwanted sexual touching or grabbing, unwelcome sexual advances and sexual harassment. The bill, which has passed the Assembly annually since 2012, would also require veterans' service agencies to provide information on military sexual trauma.

"The brave men and women who risk their lives for our country endure unimaginable hardship, both physical and emotional," said Assemblymember Russell. "Military sexual trauma is a serious issue for our soldiers throughout their service as well as when they return home. This legislation would help veterans coping with MST, especially as they make the often difficult transition to civilian life, and would take a vital step toward addressing and ending MST."

"Military sexual trauma affects both men and women in uniform, many who remain traumatized for years to come," said Assemblymember Michael DenDekker, chair of Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "The passage of this legislation would raise awareness of MST and would provide increased services and benefits for suffering veterans and their families."