Bill to Protect Veterans
On July 31, the House passed by voice vote, under suspension
of the rules, the Senate amendments to the Honoring America’s Veterans and
Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (H.R. 1627). The House version of the bill
passed in the House on May 23. On July 18, the Senate amended H.R. 1627 and
approved the measure.
Among other provisions, the bill would require the secretary
of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a plan designed to report and
track sexual assault in the military. Reports would be required to include
instances of actual, attempted, suspected, or planned sexual abuse; “criminal
and purposefully unsafe acts”; substance abuse-related acts; and actions
relating to patient abuse. The implementation plan would be required to include
a mental health care and substance abuse program. The legislation also would
require development of a sexual assault risk assessment program for veterans
treated in a medical facility to “examine any risks related to sexual assault
that a veteran may pose while being treated at a medical facility of the
Department,” based on legal and medical history.
The bill would implement mandatory employee training for
security issues, including awareness and police assistance, as well as mandatory
use of precautionary equipment, such as surveillance cameras and panic alarms. Clearer
guidelines for reporting and enforcing laws against sexual assault and the
creation of an oversight system within the Veterans Health Administration would
be priorities under the legislation.