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Military sexual trauma


Active-Duty female personnel make up 14% of our current armed forces - or about 200,000 of our 1.3 million servicemembers. Even before the ban prohibiting women from participating in combat was lifted in 2015, many female troops were experienced in combat. Unfortunately, many of these Americans have also experienced the ugly specter of military sexual trauma (MST) committed by fellow servicemembers. It is estimated nearly one of every three female military personnel has been sexually assaulted, compared with an average of one of every six female civilians. There were 7,825 military sexual assaults reported to the Department of Defense by servicemembers in 2019, a 3% increase from 2018. However, the vast majority of MSTs are not reported and our Pentagon estimated there were actually at least 20,000 sexual assaults, or an average of 55 each day in 2018. Most victims of MST are female junior enlists under the age of 25 who were harassed by someone in their chain of command.

Advocates claim many homeless female veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of experiencing combat and having been sexually harassed or assaulted during their time in the service. Approximately one out of five women who visits VA facilities tells their health care provider they experienced sexual trauma while in the military. Advocates say these crimes undermine the morale and cohesion of our military units. They also say many convicted offenders go unpunished because superiors often overturn their convictions. One study found the DoD vastly underreports the number of sexual assaults committed by servicemembers against civilians, including many assaults against civilian spouses of military personnel. It concluded that about half of all military sexual assaults are now being committed against civilians. However, these statistics are not counted in the DOD’s sexual assault prevalence reports.

In an important recent development, our nation’s top general says he is dropping his opposition to a proposal to take decisions on sexual assault prosecution out of the hands of commanders.

Pending Legislation: H.R.2724 - VA Peer Support Enhancement for MST Survivors Act
Sponsor: Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY)
Status: House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (Veterans' Affairs)
Chair: Rep. Elaine Luria (VA)












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Poll Opening Date
July 4, 2022
Poll Closing Date
July 10, 2022


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