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Congressman Andy Barr

Representing All the People of Kentucky's Sixth District

The Bipartisan Karen Tufts Military SAVE Act

As a husband, father, uncle, and brother, stopping sexual violence is of utmost importance to me.

Last year the crisis of sexual assault in the military was brought to my attention in a much more personal and meaningful way when a constituent survivor came to my office to tell me her story. What this constituent, a veteran of our armed services, shared with me was not just that she had been a victim of unwanted sexual conduct during her active duty service in the 1990’s, but also that she had struggled in the years since leaving the military unable to access the services that she need to treat and overcome the trauma she had suffered.

Specifically, she noted the healthcare services provided by the Veterans Administrations did not always match her specific post-military sexual trauma (MST) needs. As I reflect back on our conversation that day in my office, I am struck by the fact that here is a woman who was not only courageous and patriotic in serving her country in uniform, but was courageous and patriotic for having the ability to come forward to share her experience so other veterans suffering in similar circumstance might be better access to MST related and disability benefits that they so justly deserve.

Unfortunately, these constituents and their concerns are far from uncommon. According to the Pentagon, an unprecedented 26,000 military personnel were sexually assaulted in 2012.  While there is clearly much to be done to address the prevention of these assaults, there is an immediate need to change the system so we can help military sexual trauma (MST) survivors who are trying to get the care they need.

Currently, survivors of MST are only able to receive treatment outside the Veterans Administration (VA) health system if a Department of Defense or VA employee believes the victim cannot be treated within the system or if the victim lives too far away from a VA facility. While I applaud the DOD’s and VA’s work, I believe there is more we can do to help the victims of MST, especially while the Department of Veterans Affairs is working to meet the growing demands of a new generation combat veterans coming home.

This is why I authored and introduced H.R. 3775, the Karen Tufts Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act, also known as the Karen Tufts Military SAVE Act, which would empower survivors of military sexual trauma to select their own care providers and provide the support these brave service members have earned.

As the title of the bill suggests the intent of this legislation is to put MST survivors in control of their own healthcare. MST survivors have unique needs and it is important that they feel comfortable sharing this emotionally painful and very personal life-changing experience with professionals who have training and expertise to properly handle these complex cases.

At the end of the day, these survivors fought and sacrificed for their country and we must honor the commitment that this country has made to them. I am honored to stand with survivors and their families and look forward to working with my cosponsors and colleagues on the House Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus to continue advancing this legislation so we can give these heroes the best healthcare they need, the best healthcare they deserve, and the best healthcare that they have earned.

Step One: This legislation would allow survivors of MST to file an official report at a TRICARE or VA health care facility which authorizes the survivors of MST to access private health care providers of their own choice, outside the TRICARE and VA network.

Step Two: The TRICARE or VA system would then issue a voucher to the survivors, which entitles the survivors to seek care from a private provider who would be reimbursed by TRICARE or the VA for their services.

Note: The value of the voucher would be determined by the existing billing code or a pre-set amount according to the current price index TRICARE and the VA system follows.

I am grateful for the wide, bipartisan support this legislation has received.

"The VA has struggled to meet the complex needs of military sexual trauma survivors, but the Military SAVE Act makes services available for me and the many other veterans who have suffered too long."
​– Susan Moseley, a victim of unwanted sexual contact during a three-year stint in the military in the 1990s

“The tens of thousands of military sexual assault survivors in our ranks must be able to receive the proper mental and physical care after experiencing violent sexual trauma. These brave survivors who have stepped forward as they seek care, deserve to have more control over their own health decisions, particularly who they get care from. Sexual assault survivors have unique needs as a result of their traumatic experiences; they shouldn’t be forced to share personal and highly emotional experiences with a doctor who is not best-equipped to treat them. The Military SAVE Act gives survivors a chance to recover and heal under the care of a trusted healthcare provider. I thank my friend Congressman Barr for his strong leadership on this issue.”
– Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), cosponsor of H.R. 3775, is a veteran and strong advocate for military justice reform to serve assault victims

“This bill is a commonsense solution that ensures survivors of military sexual trauma receive the most compassionate, effective, and timely care possible.”
​– Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, cosponsor of H.R. 3775

“I am proud to have a Kentucky leader who understood from our first conversation that this is not about the due process issue for victims of sexual assault in the military which instigated legislation in Washington DC.  This is about the aftermath for MST survivors as they learn to live again with the help of appropriate medical and mental health staff who understand their particular needs.  The VA Hospital network cannot possibly have treatment in place for the onslaught of returning veterans who will demand help.  MST will become as familiar to the American Public as the diagnosis of PTSD.”
– Representative Susan Westrom

"We must do everything we can to protect our military men and women from the crime of sexual assault, and explore every way we can help those who have been victims. I'm proud to support Congressman Barr's Military SAVE Act that will allow women who have been victims of sexual abuse to have the choice on who they want to give them the treatment they need."
​– Representative Donna Mayfield

“The statistics are that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men experience MST.  It is not an experience one wants to remember, but they live through it day after day.  Treatment and healing are often a long way off.  The men and women who lay their lives on the line, who give us their sacred honor and trust, need our help in this situation.”
– Representative Addia Wuchner

“Sexual assault is an underreported issue throughout the military. It is vital that the armed services take any steps to make victims feel comfortable and allow them to speak confidentially with a health care provider of their choice. NAGUS strongly supports and urges passage of the bipartisan H.R. 3775 that would broaden the medical care choices provided to military sexual trauma victims.”
Retired Major General Gus Hargett, National Guard Association of the United States

"The National Military Family Association appreciates and supports this important legislation. Sharing information about a sexual assault is emotionally painful. It is important that MST survivors feel comfortable with their health care providers. The Military SAVE Act empowers survivors to select the health care they feel will best help them recover, even if that care is outside of the military and VA health care systems. We thank you for your efforts to put military sexual assault survivors in control of their care."
​– Mary T. Scott, Chairman, Board of Governors of the National Military Family Association (NMFA)

More on The Bipartisan Karen Tufts Military SAVE Act

Nov 17, 2015 Press Release

Congressman Andy Barr (KY-6) today appeared before the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health in support of the Military Sexual Assault Victims’ Empowerment (SAVE) Act.  He was joined by former Army Specialist Susan Moseley of Lexington, a survivor of military sexual trauma whose story helped inspire Congressman Barr to write the legislation.

Click here to view video of Congressman Barr and Specialist Moseley’s appearance before the committee.

Aug 7, 2014 Editorial

America’s freedom is only possible because of the sacrifice and bravery of our veterans and servicemen and women. However, recent reports of gross mismanagement and falsified data records at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), coupled with an utter lack of accountability at the agency, denies our heroes the care they have more than earned.

This is unconscionable and completely unacceptable.

Jul 29, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Andy Barr welcomed the support of Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) who signed on as a cosponsor his legislation, H.R. 3775, the bipartisan Karen Tufts Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act, or the Military SAVE Act.  As a member of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, Congresswoman Sinema has been an advocate for survivors of military sexual assault and ensuring access to care for our veterans. 

Jul 24, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Andy Barr welcomed the support of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who signed on as a cosponsor his legislation, H.R. 3775, the bipartisan Karen Tufts Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act, or the Military SAVE Act.  As a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, Congresswoman Gabbard served two tours of combat duty in the Middle East and has been a strong advocate for military justice reform on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.

Jun 10, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON - Congressman Andy Barr praised the passage of the Veterans Access to Care Act of 2014, saying:

May 22, 2014 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Andy Barr voted today to enforce new accountability standards for the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying:

“America’s freedom is only possible because of the sacrifice and bravery of our veterans.  However, recent reports of gross mismanagement and falsified data records at the VA, coupled with an utter lack of accountability at the agency, denies our heroes the care they have more than earned.

"This is unconscionable and completely unacceptable.

Apr 9, 2014 Video

On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Congressman Andy Barr had the opportunity to testify before the House Armed Services Committee in support of Kentucky's Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve components, as well as Kentucky veterans to help ensure they receive the equipment and support they deserve.

Jan 16, 2014 Page

Dear Congressman Barr,

I also believe we should provide the support our brave service members have earned and improve care for the members of our military who have survived sexual trauma.

I appreciate you taking on a stand on this important issue by introducing H.R. 3775, the Karen Tufts Military Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment Act (Military SAVE Act), to empower survivors of military sexual trauma to select their own care providers.

Jan 10, 2014 Press Release

***MEDIA ADVISORY***

LEXINGTON – United States Congressman Andy Barr (KY-6) will hold a press conference announcing the introduction of his bill, H.R. 3775, the Military Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment Act, also known as the Military SAVE Act, which will empower victims of military sexual trauma to select their own care providers. 

Congressman Barr will be joined by Representative Susan Westrom, Representative Addia Wuchner, Miss America 2000 and veterans advocate Heather French Henry, and Susan Moseley, a 19 year survivor of military sexual trauma. 

Click here to become a Citizen Cosponsor of H.R. 3775, the Karen Tufts Military Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment Act (Military SAVE Act)