Veterans, Elected Officials Urge Support for MST Survivors

Support for MST SurvivorsImage via Pennsylvania Senate Democrats

PENNSYLVANIA— State Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) and Sen. Lindsey M. Williams (D-Allegheny) joined state Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz (D-Berks), several veterans and other elected officials in the Capitol Tuesday to urge the Senate to take action on legislation to support survivors of military sexual trauma.

Senator Muth recently introduced Senate Bill 924 which would establish an annual day of recognition and awareness on November 9 of each year to honor the strength, resolve, and perseverance of military sexual trauma (MST) survivors.

“We have been fighting in the Senate to recognize survivors of MST since 2019 with several resolutions and now we are advocating for a bill to have an annual day each year to recognize these survivors. Not a single one of these measures – despite bipartisan support – has been brought up for a vote by the Majority,” Sen. Muth said. “Supporting survivors and supporting our veterans is not a partisan issue and it is time that the Senate majority recognizes this issue and acts on Senate Bill 924.”

Tuesday at a meeting of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, Senator Muth made a motion to add Senate Bill 924 to the voting agenda but that motion was tabled by a party-line vote.

“I don’t understand the resistance to recognizing these Veterans, these brave men and women, and the trauma they continue to endure,” Sen. Williams said. “But we will not give up our efforts to honor the victims of military sexual trauma.”

According to VA statistics,1 in 3 women and 1 in 50 men report that they experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault during military service when asked by their VA health care provider.

“Our military members risk their lives to protect us and this great nation. It is our duty to also protect them, and our resolution would designate the week of October 15 through 21, 2023, as Military Sexual Trauma Survivor Week,” Rep. Cepeda-Freytiz added. “Our military members being at risk must be a bipartisan concern. Both Democrats and Republicans should have an interest in ensuring the well-being of veterans and addressing any issues they face, including those related to sexual abuse.”

The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee unanimously passed House Resolution 189 on Monday. The resolution introduced by Rep. Cepeda-Freytiz would recognize October 15-21, 2023 as Military Sexual Trauma Survivor Week in Pennsylvania.

Other participants in the press conference included Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity and Jim Ulinski, a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran from Phoenixville.

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