On this Veterans Day, the California Women’s Law Center would like to recognize the sacrifice our service members and their families have made in protecting our nation.
As we acknowledge our veterans for their heroism and service to country, CWLC remains committed to being an advocate for those who have bravely served our nation. Unfortunately, more than a quarter of women veterans report experiencing military sexual trauma (MST) during their time of service, with the majority of assaults going unreported. MST often results in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other mental and physical health issues.
In addition, U.S. veterans are limited in their ability to get justice against sexual assault and harassment perpetrators because of the Feres Doctrine. Decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1950, Feres v. United States bars service members from recovering damages for “injuries that arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service.” Under the Feres rule, sexual violence is considered merely “incident to service,” therefore this legal doctrine continues to block women veterans who have been sexually assaulted while serving our country from bringing a lawsuit against the government or their assailant in a U.S. court.
Women veterans also continue to face obstacles that prevent them from accessing health benefits and services which contributes to their high rates of homelessness. There are roughly 40,000 homeless veterans in America, and over 3,500 homeless veterans in Los Angeles alone. Women comprise the fastest growing segment of homeless veterans in the country, growing at a rate that is seven times faster than male veterans. And, remember that over 20 veterans on average commit suicide each day.
CWLC recognizes that assisting those who have served our country must remain a priority. Today and every day, we thank our veterans for their service and honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.