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Ernst, McCaskill Continue Bipartisan Fight for Military Sexual Assault Victims

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reintroduced the Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment (SAVE) Act. The bipartisan Military SAVE Act puts military sexual trauma (MST) survivors in control of their health care by giving them the opportunity, flexibility, and discretion to choose treatment options that best suit their needs.

Under this legislation, if the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not meet the needs of MST survivors, the Military SAVE Act gives all MST survivors the option to seek prompt care at a non-VA facility of their choice. This enables MST survivors to find a trusted provider who has the specialized training and expertise to care for these complex and sensitive cases.

“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act continues to build upon my bipartisan efforts to thwart sexual assault, but we must continue working to make sure victims of these heinous crimes receive quality and timely care,” said Senator Ernst, a combat veteran. Our bipartisan effort would give military sexual trauma survivors greater choice to determine their own trusted health care provider. This Congress must act to ensure victims of military sexual assault have access to immediate care, and the support they need.” 

“Survivors of sexual assault have unique treatment needs, and they should be able to seek treatment with a provider they trust,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “We’ve got to ensure victims have a range of choices about the type of treatment that’s best for them—whether in or out of the VA system—with a specialized provider. Our bipartisan bill is a simple, commonsense fix to empower victims and make that choice possible.”

About the Military SAVE Act:

  • The Military SAVE Act amends the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act to allow veterans who are MST survivors to choose health care providers outside the VA, regardless of certain eligibility requirements. The option to access non-VA care applies to injuries directly related to military sexual trauma while serving in the military on active duty or in training.
  • Survivors of MST would contact the Veterans Choice Card benefits hotline in order to report a documented or previously unreported sexual assault during their military service – these veterans would receive automatic authorization to private care without having to satisfy any other conditions.