Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblywoman Addie Russell today announced the passage of legislation requiring the Division of Veteran's Affairs to develop a program that will assist New York's men and women veterans who are suffering from military sexual trauma (MST).
"I commend Assemblywoman Russell for sponsoring this bill and bringing this serious problem to our conference's attention," said Silver. "We owe a great deal to those who protect our nation's liberties and the principles of freedom throughout the world. One of the ways we can show our appreciation for their military service is to provide the best information available to those affected by MST."
Silver and Russell noted that in recent years veteran program administrators have recognized the harm that has been inflicted on veterans by MST, a problem that has been unreported for many decades and one that received little attention despite its traumatic impact on victims.
In 2010, the Department of Defense disclosed that more than 3,150 sexual assaults, involving both men and women soldiers, were reported. For that same year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' records show that 68,000 veterans were treated for MST while the Pentagon says that less than 14 percent of all the sexual assaults committed against military personnel are made public.
"Clearly, many veterans are suffering silently and delaying for too long their decision to seek professional help for MST. This bill will help ensure that veterans get the most up-to-date and comprehensive information about MST services, so they can seek treatment for this traumatic and harmful condition early and not go years without receiving the help they need," said Russell.
Under the bill (A.10068-A, Russell), the Division of Veterans' Affairs will be required to develop and encourage plans for assistance and benefits for veterans who experience MST while on active duty or during military training.