WASHINGTON D.C. (NEWS CENTER) -- The House of Representatives took a giant step today toward helping Veterans who are victims of sexual assault in the military. They unanimously passed the Ruth Moore Act, named for a Maine Veteran from Millbridge.
Moore told Newscenter by phone, "Today is proof that one person really can make a difference."
And what a difference in Ruth Moore today compared with the woman we interviewed in 2011 on the condition we protect her identity.
Moore was 18 years old when she was raped on a Navy base in the Azores. When she tried to report it, she was told she was unstable or worse - at one point a military doctor diagnosed her with a personality disorder. She was also denied veterans benefits for decades... Until 2009 when a VA investigator discovered her records had been tampered with.
In the last year, Moore has gone public with her efforts to make it easier for other veterans to get the benefits they need. She has testified before Congress several times and collected 160,000 signatures for a petition to the VA to address these issues on its own.
She worked with Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree on the bill that bears her name. "In the end, [Ruth's testimony] helped make the point that people who served their country who have been raped and traumatized - men and women - it has a powerful impact on someone's life, especially when they don't get the benefits they need," says Pingree. "This piece of legislation goes a long way to changing that."
Moore says she is celebrating with her family today by, "ditching the diet and digging into a strawberry-rhubarb cake."
The bill now goes to the Senate. The first hearing there is scheduled for next Wednesday. There is strong bi-partisan support in the Senate, and the President supports the bill, as well.