Barr, Westrom Officially Unveil Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act

Jan 13, 2014

The spotlight was on survivors of military sexual assault at the state Capitol Monday.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr introduces the Military SAVE Act.
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr introduces the Military SAVE Act.
Credit Josh James / WUKY

In a bipartisan show of support, Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr joined Democratic State Rep. Susan Westrom unveiled the Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act.

A new report recently released by the Pentagon estimates that 26,000 military personnel members were sexually assaulted last year alone. Spurred to action by those numbers and the stories of survivors, Kentucky state and federal lawmakers are taking up the issue.

"This bill would empower survivors of military sexual trauma to select healthcare providers of their own choice, including private providers outside of the VA system," Barr said.

Barr was flanked by a specialist in military sexual assault, or MST, and Susan Moseley, who was assaulted by an Army superior in the early 90s. She says the current treatment offered is often insufficient.

"I should be able to call and have appointments when I need them and not have to wait months on end and be told you might be seen, you could be seen, and then it's going to take a long time before you're able to build that trust to get the kind of care that you need," Moseley told reporters.

Currently victims can only seek treatment outside of the VA health system if a Dept. of Defense or VA employee believes the victim cannot be treated within the system, if the victim lives too far away from a VA facility, or if a DOD or VA official issues a referral.