Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., joined three other senators from both sides of the political aisle on Monday in introducing legislation to assist sexual trauma victims in the military.
The Support for Survivors Act would assist victims of sexual trauma during their military service by requiring the Department of Defense to ensure life-long storage of all documents connected with reports of sexual assaults and sexual harassment across military branches. The legislation was also introduced by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
If approved, this bill also would prevent the military from destroying any records relating to sexual assault.
“We need to support the men and women who have served our nation fearlessly,” Klobuchar said in a written statement. “Instead of destroying these records, we should be making sure that consistent records are kept across all military branches. By simply helping preserve their personal records, we can make sure our veterans have the care they need while supporting justice for assault victims.”
There is now no coordinated policy across the military branches to ensure preservation of medical records and other reports connected with sexual trauma. Long-term preservation of records can help a victim pursue legal action while also allowing records to be used as evidence in a later crime involving the same perpetrator, the senators said.
The Department of Defense said there were 3,158 official reports of sexual assaults in the military in 2010, but the Pentagon estimates this number only represents 13 to 14 percent of the total assaults because most incidents are not reported to military authorities.