McSally proposes bipartisan bill to coordinate federal, local trauma services for veterans

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) on Nov. 20 introduced bipartisan legislation that would improve coordination between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and State Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Centers to better serve military veterans who have experienced sexual or domestic violence.

Sen. McSally is the lead original cosponsor of the Supporting Veteran Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence Act, S. 2915, with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to better connect veterans who are survivors of domestic or sexual violence with VA resources.

“Congress must do more to support our servicemen and women as they overcome trauma and seek support and safety outside of their homes,” Sen. McSally said. “Our legislation will ensure the needs of servicemembers and veterans are met with ample resources and assistance.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense released its annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, which showed a 50-percent increase since 2016 in assaults against servicewomen.

“Domestic and sexual violence has no place in our society or in our military. I fought to have several provisions from my bill to combat military sexual assault incorporated into the annual defense bill, but we must take a holistic view of how we solve this issue,” said Sen. McSally, referring to several of her legislative priorities to combat sexual assault in the military that were incorporated in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

If enacted, S. 2915 would direct the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a program of coordination with local domestic, intimate partner and sexual violence service providers; establish local outreach coordinators at VA hospitals to serve as liaisons to communities; and direct the VA to complete a national baseline study on the prevalence and causes of domestic violence among veterans, among other provisions, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. McSally’s office.

The bill has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.