Congressman Steve Knight introduced legislation Wednesday to help military service members suffering from military sexual trauma.
H.R. 5707, the Sexual Trauma Response and Treatment Act, would establish a pilot program within the Department of Defense to provide intensive outpatient programs to military service members who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to military sexual trauma (MST). The program would implement private-public partnerships to provide a holistic and integrated approach to treatment. This includes providing healthcare, counseling, family benefits, substance abuse assistance, and other measures.
The initiative is being led with Massachusetts Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, and companion legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Georgia Senator David Perdue.
Intended to operate as a testing ground for these new treatment options, the START Act also requires the Department of Defense to report back to Congress on the efficacy of the program and offer wider policy recommendations based on the findings.
“An essential part of maintaining a strong and capable military is taking care of our service members and ensuring our values are reinforced in the ranks,” Knight said. “Military sexual trauma betrays the dignity of our men and women who volunteer to serve, destroys unit camaraderie, and can have long-term and severe effects on its victims. We need to do a better job to prevent and treat MST. This bipartisan bill we introduced today will go a long way towards helping on the treatment end of this challenge.”
Knight is a veteran of the U.S. Army and member of the House Armed Services Committee and serves on the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces and Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. He also introduced H.R. 1162, the No Hero Left Untreated Act, which establishes a pilot program to implement emergent advanced technology to treat service members and veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.