Yesterday the House passed an amendment to the 2014 defense appropriations bill that seeks to increase support of military sexual assault victims who have faced separation from the military based on alleged mental disorders.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), one of the most outspoken advocates of military sexual assault victims in congress, introduced the amendment. Its passing will result in $65 million allocated to the cause of identifying victims who were dismissed after illegitimate psychological evaluations and further reviewing their records of discharge. Speier’s amendment passed by voice vote, along with another amendment to the appropriations bill that sets aside $10 million in order to further train the military’s criminal investigators. Both amendments seek to address the problems recently raised by military sexual assault victims that pertain to the conflicting interests that exist when reporting sexual assault crimes within the military chain of command.
According to a recent investigative report, victims who report sexual assaults to their commanders are often subject to biased psychological evaluations that can likely result in their discharge from the military. This focus on mental health cases is an important first step in addressing the epidemic of military sexual assault. “Mental-health diagnoses are rampantly misused to administratively discharge or retaliate against survivors of sexual assault,” Rep. Speier emphasized yesterday. “These dismissals are like scarlet letters, pinned where medals should be.”
Media Resources: Houston Chronicle 7/24/13; Feminist Newswire 4/17/13; Military Times 7/24/13; San Antonio Express-News 7/25/13; San Francisco Chronicle 7/24/13