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 offices 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 or. 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. In March 2008, the Department of Defense (DoD) released their fourth annual sexual assault report, which stated that there were 2,688 reports of sexual assault in 2007. Although this is down from the 2,947 allegations of sexual assaults reported in 2006, the DoD changed their reporting requirements from calendar year to fiscal year, so there is no way to tell if this reflects a decrease in sexual assaults or not.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2011-12: S.6342D - Died in Veterans and Homeland Security
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Unknown.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 909 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Securi- ty and Military Affairs 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. LBD02827-01-3