Albany, NY June 3- During my visit to the NYS Assembly in Albany, New York, we were able to have meaningful progress for our movement. Our Military Sexual Trauma Movement is about advocating for survivors on local, state and national levels of government in order to effect changes that protect survivors of MST.
Albany, NY June 18- New York State’s legislature has passed the first in a series of policy reforms pushed by the Military Sexual Trauma Movement, Inc. The historic three bills have passed both The Assembly A.8095; A.8096 & A.8097 and Senate S.6467; S.6527 & S.45. The legislation, authored by Assemblymember Didi Barret (D) is the first of its kind in the nation and represents a huge victory for victims of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and for the LGBT community.
A.8096/S.6467 and A.8097/S.6527 directs the State Division of Veterans Affairs to maintain a discharge upgrade advisory board and another bill authorizes this board to issue advisories to the Armed Forces Review Boards on discharge upgrades. The so called “Bad Paper Bills” create a path to a discharge upgrade for those who have received a retaliatory discharge.
MST Movement founder, Janelle Marina Mendez highlights the need for reform saying, “Retaliatory discharges are notoriously difficult to fight and further victimize vulnerable veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and it’s another tool used by the military to punish service members from the LGBTQIA community for simply being who they are.”
“Refusing to recognize the hard work and sacrifices of veterans in the LGBTQ community or those who are struggling with PTSD, TBI, or Military Sexual Trauma, is unequivocally immoral,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “These individuals honorably fought for our country and our freedoms. There’s no reason ‘bad papers’ should keep them from accessing the resources they need when they return home.”
A.8097/ S 45 extends State benefits and services to veterans who served honorably but received “bad papers” or a “less than honorable discharge.” MST Movement founder, Janelle Marina Mendez heralds the passage of the legislation as “an important step toward setting up a support system for victims of MST who have been retaliated against with bad discharge papers. Being able to access State benefits for mental health and housing, can be the difference between a veteran accessing mental health services and turning to illicit drugs and homelessness. Our petition urging New York State to support victims of Military Sexual Trauma continues to carry the voices of Veterans who are crying out for help. We are now calling on Governor Cuomo to sign the bill into law. These laws will save lives for Veterans in New York State.”
The reforms for NYS Veterans are one step toward the realization of the MST Victims Bill of Rights. The MST Victims Bill of Rights is a package of reform proposals meant to provide protection to victims from the severe retaliation that they face and lack of critical services. The Military Sexual Trauma Movement, Inc. is formed to protect service members who have experienced military sexual trauma by advocating for the implementation of the Military Sexual Trauma Victims Bill of Rights. The Military Sexual Trauma Movement, Inc. will serve to advocate for survivors and create a community that will serve as a sign of hope for future generations of young people entering the United States Military. For more information visit EndMST.org
Now, we are urging Governor Cuomo to sign these bill in to law making New York State the first in the nation to protect both classes of vulnerable veterans: MST and LGBTQIA.
Please sign and share our petition supporting the NYS Bad Paper Bills! We appreciate your support!