WASHINGTON — Veterans who suffered sexual assault or other sexual abuse while in uniform would get help more easily from the Department of Veterans Affairs under a bill approved Monday by the House.

The bill would allow a statement by a survivor of military sexual trauma to be considered sufficient proof that an assault occurred. The House approved the bill by voice vote Monday.

The bill is named after Ruth Moore, a former Navy sailor who was raped twice by a superior officer nearly three decades ago. Moore, of Milbridge, Maine, was awarded more than $400,000 in retroactive disability benefits last year after a decades-long battle with the VA.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, called it an important step to get the VA to make its benefits process easier and fairer for veterans like Moore who were sexually assaulted during their military service.

Since starting work on the issue five years ago, Pingree said she heard from “countless veterans who’ve struggled for years to get disability benefits for (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other conditions that stem from their assaults.”

The survivors are men and women of all ages, from every branch of the service, Pingree said. “There are veterans who are suffering from PTSD because they were sexually assaulted, and they are not being treated fairly,” she said.

Current VA policy allows statements from a mental health professional or even a family member to be considered as evidence of an assault, although critics say the VA has been inconsistent in applying that policy.

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