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Congresswoman Clarke: Reform the Claims Process for Survivors of Sexual Assault in the Military

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement about her request that the Department of Veterans Affairs reform the process by which the claims of survivors of sexual assault in the military are evaluated.

Currently, the agency’s regulations allow the survivors of sexual assault to present circumstantial evidence, such as reports from law enforcement agencies and mental health facilities, statements from family members, and examples of changes in behavior that indicate sexual assault. Though survivors of sexual assault are allowed to present circumstantial evidence, the Veterans Affairs Department does not have to consider this evidence when making their final claims determination.  As a result, the claims of the survivors of sexual assault – typically for post-traumatic stress disorder – are approved at a much lower rate than other forms of trauma.

“Our armed forces have a responsibility to protect the safety of the men and women in uniform. Of the estimated 26,000 soldiers  that were sexually assaulted in 2012, only about one in eight reported the crime to authorities, because in many instances those authorities have failed to respond appropriately,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “This situation must end, now. We must stop sexual assault in the military, by prosecuting attackers to the full extent of the law and by providing survivors with the resources to report  their assault without fear of retribution.”

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.