Congresswomen Deborah Ross (NC-02), Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-AL), and Jennifer Wexton (VI-10) reintroduced the Military Sexual Trauma Retirement Equity Act (MSTREA Act). This bipartisan legislation seeks to ensure all military retirees with disabilities caused by military sexual trauma (MST) can receive their full retirement and disability compensation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 50 men report experiencing Military Sexual Trauma to their VA providers. In 2021, the Department of Defense’s annual sexual assault prevention report estimated that 8.4% of female service members experienced unwanted sexual contact.

“We owe our veterans an enormous debt of gratitude, and we cannot fail to act when military retirees who endured heinous acts of violence are unable to receive the benefits they are owed,” said Congresswoman Ross. “We must end the stigma around sexual assault and provide our military retirees, including those in North Carolina, with the support needed to recover fully from trauma. I thank Congresswoman González-Colón for her leadership on this issue and look forward to working with her to support survivors.”

“I'm proud to reintroduce the MSTREA Act, which seeks to fairly compensate our veterans who have suffered a traumatic sexual experience while serving our country,” said Congresswoman González-Colón. “Let’s not forget that these brave men and women chose to serve, despite knowing the hardships they may encounter during their time in our military.  They should not be subjected to this kind of treatment, and even less so, not receive compensation due to trauma to this magnitude. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues once more in support of this legislation and on behalf of those impacted by MST.”

“Survivors of military sexual trauma deserve the same benefits that all veterans are entitled to—but right now, too many survivors are being prevented from accessing their full retirement pay,” said Congresswoman Wexton.“I'm proud to join Rep. González-Colón and cosponsor this important bipartisan legislation to right this wrong and stand with survivors of military sexual trauma.”

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is sexual assault or repeated sexual harassment that occurs while the member is serving on duty. The experience of MST can cause a wide range of illnesses that could result in a service-connected disability, including but not limited to post-traumatic stress disorders, STDs, and reproductive health disorders.

The Military Sexual Trauma Retirement Equity Act would:

  • Build on enacted legislation and define MST as an exposure that meets the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) criteria.
  • Make clerical amendments to retitle CRSC as Trauma-Related Special Compensation.
  • Protect these veterans from the retraumatizing experience of telling their story of survival to multiple Departments. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs finding of a service-connected disability will be determinative for purposes of qualification.