Today, CALCASA provided testimony at the California Assembly’s Oversight Hearing of the Veteran Affairs Committee with the Legislative Women’s Caucus on Military Sexual Trauma: How It Impacts California and What Supportive Services Are In Place for Survivors. At this hearing, CALCASA specifically addressed how California’s rape crisis centers provide vital services to survivors of military sexual assault and why rape crisis centers are a key resource that provides free, confidential services (ranging from crisis intervention, counseling, and advocacy) to sexual assault survivors and their loved ones. The hearing also included testimony from survivors, California National Guard, and California Veteran Affairs and the public. Both the California National Guard and Veterans Affairs staff commented on how rape crisis centers are a key resource from the civilian community in addressing the needs of military survivors.
Ann McCarty, Associate Director from North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center in Lompoc (near Vandenberg AFB) and Verna Griffin-Tabor, Executive Director from Center for Community Solutions in San Diego provided key testimony on how their respective centers are serving survivors (and their families) of military sexual assault. They also addressed how their centers (along with other rape crisis centers across the state) need more funding and resources to fully address the needs of military survivors and their families.
CALCASA provided the following 3 recommendations for this Joint Committee’s consideration in addressing the needs of survivors of military sexual assault in California:
1. Increase funding for California’s rape crisis centers to specifically serve survivors (and their families) of military sexual violence;
2. Require training on assessment for sexual violence and trauma for staff at Veterans Affairs/Services Offices across the state, since it is unlikely that military survivors would disclose the sexual assault. Additionally, it is recommended that Veterans Services would collaborate with sexual assault service providers to enhance cross-referrals for survivors.
3. Amend the CA Victims Compensation’s regulations to include addressing the needs of survivors of military sexual assault, especially as many of these survivors may not file a report. Similar guidelines exist for sexual assault or domestic violence survivors where they are able to file claims when no report may be filed with law enforcement. In these cases, a survivor may submit a claim with a letter from a therapist, rape crisis or domestic violence counselor as evidence that a crime has occurred.
CALCASA commends Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair – California Legislative Women’s Caucus and Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, Chair – Assembly Veteran Affairs Committee for their leadership in hosting this Oversight Hearing and looks forward to working with them and their members on their efforts to address military sexual assault.