Press Releases

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) teamed up with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to introduce legislation that would ensure veterans who have survived military sexual trauma (MST) have access to trained peer support specialists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

“The VA must continue to improve its delivery of benefits and care to survivors of military sexual trauma. This legislation will update the department’s policies to create a peer support program that expands access to critical resources and meet veteran survivors’ needs as they seek out vital assistance,” Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said.

Currently, veterans who file disability claims with the VA for benefits due to the physical and mental effects of MST have no formal mental or emotional health support. This legislation will ensure veterans have trained specialists to help them navigate the complicated and often re-traumatizing process of documenting their assault in order to receive the benefits to help them heal. 

Sexual assault in the military is vastly underreported due to concerns regarding confidentiality, retaliation and the perception the military chain of command will be unresponsive. This makes providing evidence of MST problematic when a veteran files a claim for disability benefits based on the physical and mental impacts of their assault. This bill would require the VA to ensure every individual who files a claim relating to MST is assigned a peer support specialist during the claims process. These peer support specialists must be trained to support veterans throughout the MST claims process. 

Full text of the bill is available here.