Congressman Barr hopes to launch military sexual trauma pilot project in Lexington, other areas with Military SAVE Act

09/22/2017 04:09 PM

FRANKFORT – U.S. Rep. Andy Barr unveiled legislation Friday that aims to better serve military veterans who have endured sexual assaults, saying he hopes a pilot project in the Lexington area will launch if it passes Congress.

Barr, R-Lexington, said the Military Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment Act would allow veterans to circumvent the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for treatment and instead choose a doctor to handle problems stemming from military sexual trauma.

The Military SAVE Act would establish five pilot projects for three years in an attempt to help those suffering. Barr said 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men are sexually assaulted during their military service.

“This legislation also commissions a study to make sure we measure the results of what direct-access care can provide and that the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot provide,” Barr said during a news conference at the state Capitol.

Barr said his concern for military sexual trauma grew after hearing from a constituent, Susan Moseley, on the subject in 2013, his first year in office.

She was among those who spoke in favor of the Military SAVE Act during Friday’s news conference.

“If one person can have a better path in this, then all of this will have been worth it,” Moseley said.

Barr also credited the state Department of Veterans Affairs for its help in crafting the legislation through the years.

Heather French Henry, the agency’s deputy commissioner, said more should be done for sexual assault victims within the armed services.

“What’s truly heartbreaking is that many of our nation’s heroes have suffered in silence for many years, and ladies and gentlemen, that is just not acceptable,” Henry said. “As the daughter of a veteran whose journey home from the terrors of war took nearly 30 years, I know what it’s like to watch a loved one struggle to find the support and programming needed to begin that healing process.”

Barr said Lexington should receive a pilot project if the Military SAVE Act becomes law.

That hurdle would be easier to clear if the legislation is rolled into a more overarching U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reform bill that’s being drafted, a process Barr says he’s working on with Congressman Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

That bill should be ready for committee hearings next month, Barr said.

“We crafted the legislation such that the Lexington-area VA would have an excellent chance of being awarded one of these pilot programs, the way we drafted the legislation to describe the area,” he said. “And Lexington is a uniquely important place to have this pilot program because we are within 100 miles of major military installations – Fort Knox, Fort Campbell – and we have a major military presence right here in Frankfort with the Boone Center and the National Guard.”


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