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LAS-ELC Joins Efforts to End Military Sexual Trauma
Each year, more than 19,000 members of our armed forces are raped or sexually assaulted at work. This epidemic of sexual violence has been called the "invisible war" due to a culture of silence which keeps survivors from reporting these crimes and can result in a lack of action when reports are made.
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center's Gender Equity & LGBT Rights program has joined efforts to end military sexual trauma (MST). LAS-ELC provides services to veterans who have experienced MST, assisting them with employment-related legal issues and with discharge upgrades.
On April 17th, Gender/LGBT Director Elizabeth Kristen attended the 2013 Truth & Justice Summit in Washington, DC hosted by Servicewomen’s Action Network (SWAN). During the two day summit, MST victims told their stories of survival. Jennifer Beals (star of the "Lauren" program about MST) inspired attendees by reminding them that "love is your shield, truth is your sword". Senator Claire McCaskill gave a keynote address which focused on pending reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and SWAN gave awards to other members of Congress who have championed reform.
The next day, SWAN took to Capitol Hill to urge passage of the bipartisan Ruth Moore Act (HR 671/S 294). The bill is named after veteran Ruth Moore who was raped at the age of 18 during her service in the Navy. The Ruth Moore Act will make it easier for victims of MST to prevail in their claims for veterans disability benefits. Veterans and other advocates met with members of Congress to seek their support for this important initiative.
LAS-ELC will be hosting a Brown Bag discussion about MST this summer on July 16 from 12-1:30.
Victims of sexual assault in the military or in civilian life can call our SURVIVE helpline for assistance with employment related issues or discharge upgrades: 888-864-8335.
For other issues relating to sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).