Women in the military are silently struggling. In 2007, there were 2,688 reported sexual assaults in the military, with nearly half being rape.
Shockingly, most are forced to pay for their own rape kit (victims' files containing DNA samples, interviews, photographs of injuries and other evidence). TRICARE, the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System, will only pay for rape kits if the victim is seen in a military or VA facility. However, an estimated 80 percent of cases go unreported, with victims choosing to go off-base to protect their anonymity or careers.
Women in the military need protection. They are twice as likely to be raped as their civilian counterparts, and are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.
In the upcoming administration, the appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs needs to be aware of the additional vulnerability female soldiers face, and the lack of support they receive. Urge the new Secretary to reform TRICARE so that rape kits are covered, regardless of where victims choose to go for an examination.