Budzinski, Kim, Bost Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve VA Training for Military Sexual Trauma Claims  

Jul 08, 2024
Press
Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives Nikki Budzinski (D-IL-13) and Young Kim (R-CA-40) and Mike Bost (R-IL-12) announced the introduction of the bipartisan Improving VA Training for Military Sexual Trauma Claims Act which would improve training for VA employees who process and decide military sexual trauma (MST) claims. The legislation would help to reduce red tape for survivors who file for disability benefits. 

“Too many of our nation’s servicemembers come home with invisible wounds. We can’t allow our disability claims process to deepen them,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “I’m proud to be teaming up with Representatives Young Kim and Mike Bost on legislation to provide survivors of military sexual trauma with the support they deserve as they file a claim. Our bipartisan bill will ensure that the VA workers processing these claims receive the training they need to fairly decide military sexual trauma claims without retraumatizing survivors along the way. Together, we can reduce the red tape encountered by survivors and enact long-overdue reform to this process.”

“Veterans filing MST claims have faced unthinkable trauma. CDCE examinations should be easy and painless – not cause more pain,” said Congresswoman Kim. “The bipartisan Improving VA Training for Military Sexual Trauma Claims Act aims to provide much-needed updates to training for CDCEs and certainty for veterans filing MST claims that they are valued and will receive the care they deserve. I will always have the backs of our veterans who had ours against global threats.”

“As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I’ve heard too many stories from veterans who were retraumatized by the very system meant to support them,” said Bost. “This bill will ensure that VA employees receive comprehensive and up-to-date training on handling military sexual trauma claims with the sensitivity and care our veterans deserve. By cutting through the red tape and improving the quality of these examinations, we would be taking a critical step to make sure that no veteran is ever retraumatized in their pursuit of justice and benefits. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country; it is our sacred obligation to provide them with the best possible care and support,” said Chairman Bost.

Currently, contracted disability compensation examiners (CDCEs) are only required to complete an outdated online sensitivity training before handling MST claims. As a result, the process of filing a disability benefits claim can be retraumatizing for veterans who experienced sexual trauma during their military service. The Improving VA Training for Military Sexual Trauma Claims Act would address these issues by:

  • Requiring the VA Secretary to create a plan to improve training for CDCEs who examine veterans dealing with MST claims.
  • Ensuring annual training on identifying evidence to support MST claims and annual sensitivity training for all VA employees who process and decide MST claims, and those who communicate with claimants. 
  • Improving quality assurance of CDCEs so veterans who experienced MST are not retraumatized during the medical disability examination process; and
  • Requiring the VA to automatically obtain all service and personnel medical records for PTSD-based claims filed for in-service personal assault.

The full text of the Improving VA Training for Military Sexual Trauma Claims Act can be found here.

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