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The Veterans Affairs Building in Washington, D.C. is shown in this undated file photo.

The Veterans Affairs Building in Washington, D.C. is shown in this undated file photo. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — A bill to help veterans who survived sexual assault and harassment while in the military has sailed through the House of Representatives.

The bill, which passed 417-0, aims to streamline the flow of basic information from the Veterans Benefits Administrations and the Veterans Health Administration, said its sponsor, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Virginia Beach. It also requires the Department of Veterans Affairs provide information about counseling and care on the Veterans Crisis Line as well as additional resources for survivors.

Separately, the House also passed another bill Luria sponsored to require every VA medical facility provide lactation spaces. This bill advanced on a 420-0 vote.

While there are currently 90 VA facilities across the country with designated nursing rooms, these spaces are only for employees of the VA.

“Congress must do more to support MST (military sexual trauma) survivors and military families,” Luria said.

Luria, a 20-year Navy veteran, is chair of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, and recently heard hearings on how disability claims for veterans who suffered military sexual trauma are handled.

She argued successfully for keeping provisions addressing sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence in the military in the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

©2022 Daily Press.


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