Relates to the development of plans to adequately address military sexual trauma experienced by female veterans.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to developing plans to adequately address military sexual trauma experienced by female veterans
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To disseminate information to female veterans and make available at the Office of Mental Health and Department of Veteran Affairs websites where they can seek treatment and counseling for Military Sexual Trauma.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 Amends section 7.09 of the mental hygiene law by adding new subdivision k: The Commissioner of Mental Health shall promulgate rules and regulations to disseminate information to female veterans, when applicable, regarding which veterans affairs centers and other organizations such female veterans can seek treatment, counseling and resources for Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Such information shall be posted on the office/s website with a link to the website of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and a link to the State Division of Veterans' Affairs.
Subdivision 1: The Commissioner shall establish peer counseling and support services regarding Military Sexual Trauma for female veterans at one or more veterans affairs facilities if deemed appropriate and necessary.
JUSTIFICATION: In many instances those veterans who have returned home from combat and/or have completed their tour of duty have had a myriad of experiences that sometimes adversely affect them. The experiences and events they go through can sometimes lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
However, female veterans can also go through traumatic experiences that are not discussed as often as PTSD. One trauma they go through in particular is Military Sexual Trauma (MST). The definition of MST used by the Department of Veteran Affairs is: psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty or active duty for training.
It is imperative that information of where to seek treatment and counseling for Military Sexual Trauma is afforded to female veterans and posted on the Department of Veterans Affairs website. Providing these veterans with this information will enable them to know where to go for help and services.
The Department of Veteran Affairs states that in a screening for military personnel seeking VA healthcare 1 in 5 women responded "yes" when screened for MST. However, according to pentagon statistics nearly 1 in 3 women in the military is at risk for sexual assault,
twice as many as in the general population. The Defense Department's 2006 sexual assault report stated that 2,947 incidents were reported an increase of 73% from 2004.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Unknown.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6342--D IN SENATE January 30, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sens. HUNTLEY, AVELLA, ESPAILLAT, PARKER, RIVERA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to developing plans to adequately address military sexual trauma experienced by female veterans THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 7.09 of the mental hygiene law is amended by adding two new subdivisions (k) and (l) to read as follows: (K) THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PROMULGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS TO DISSEM- INATE INFORMATION TO FEMALE VETERANS, WHEN APPLICABLE, REGARDING WHICH VETERANS' AFFAIRS CENTERS AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS SUCH FEMALE VETERANS CAN SEEK TREATMENT, COUNSELING AND RESOURCES FOR MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA. SUCH INFORMATION SHALL BE POSTED ON THE OFFICE'S WEBSITE WITH A LINK TO THE WEBSITE OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND A LINK TO THE WEBSITE OF THE STATE DIVISION OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE, MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA SHALL MEAN PSYCHOLOG- ICAL TRAUMA, WHICH IN THE JUDGMENT OF A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, RESULTED FROM A PHYSICAL ATTACK OF A SEXUAL NATURE, BATTERY OF A SEXUAL NATURE OR SEXUAL HARASSMENT WHICH OCCURRED WHILE THE VETERAN WAS SERVING ON ACTIVE DUTY OR ON ACTIVE DUTY FOR TRAINING. (L) THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ESTABLISH PEER COUNSELING AND SUPPORT SERVICES REGARDING MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA FOR FEMALE VETERANS AT ONE OR MORE FACILITIES OPERATED OR CERTIFIED BY THE OFFICE IF THE COMMISSIONER DEEMS IT APPROPRIATE AND NECESSARY. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14203-07-2