Congressional committee holds hearing on Ruth Moore Act- which helps victims of military sexual assault

By Ramona du Houx - April 16th, 2013 

Congressman Mike Michaud hugs Ruth Moore, a navy veteran, while Congresswoman Chellie Pingree waits to testify in a hearing on her bill concerning sexual assault in the military. "it was an honor to welcome Ruth Moore of Milbridge, Maine to today’s hearing. Sadly, sexual assaults in the military continue to be a problem for too many who serve.," said Michaud.

“I fought for 23 years to get the benefits I was owed. My records were tampered with, I was diagnosed with a mental illness I didn’t have, and my life fell apart. That shouldn’t have to happen to anyone and this bill will make it a little easier for veterans who deserve some compensation,” said Ruth Moore, whose name the bill is named for, at a press conference in Washington, D.C. in February, when Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Jon Tester introduced the Ruth Moore Act, a bill that will make it easier for survivors of military sexual assault to get the benefits they deserve.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing today on the Ruth Moore Act. The bill, the Ruth Moore Act (H.R. 671), would simplify the way veterans qualify for benefits related to sexual assaults. Under the Act veterans would only have to show a medical diagnosis of a mental health condition and a link between an assault and that mental health condition.

Pingree testified while Ruth Moore looked on.

“Whetherthe attack happened on a Navy base in Europe or a National Guard training facility here in the U.S., whether they were soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, the story too often has the same ending: the victims were blamed, the crime was covered up, and the survivors themselves became the subject of further harassment and recrimination. And too often, what followed was years of mental health issues, lost jobs, substance abuse and homelessness,” said Pingree. “These stories don’t have to end this way. With the Ruth Moore Act we can change the VA’s policy so that veterans who survive a sexual assault can at least get the benefits they deserve.”

“It was an honor to welcome Ruth Moore of Milbridge, Maine to today’s hearing,” said Congressman Mike Michaud, who cosponsored Pingree’s bill. “Sadly, sexual assaults in the military continue to be a problem for too many who serve.”

Recently the Veterans Administration reduced the standard of proof for combat veterans who suffer from PTSD. Pingree said that same standard should be offered to victims of military sexual assault.

Ruth Moore, a veteran from Maine, was raped by her commanding officer after enlisting in the Navy at age 18. When she reported the incident she was raped again, by the same commanding officer. Moore reported the attacks, but the attacker was never charged or disciplined. Moore was labeled as suffering from mental illness and discharged from the Navy. She then fought for over twenty years before she was finally awarded the veterans benefits she deserved.