Ruth Moore was first denied benefits in 1993; Pingree asked officials to reopen case and reconsider decision
Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs called Navy Veteran Ruth Moore today to tell her they had made a "clear and unmistakable error" in denying her veterans benefits in 1993 and agreed to pay her over $405,000 in back benefits owed to her. Moore was the victim of sexual assault while serving in the Navy in the mid-1980s.
"It was wrong for the VA to deny Ruth's claims over twenty years ago and although nothing can undo the pain and trauma that she has suffered, at last Ruth will be getting the benefits she earned and deserved," Pingree said. "The staff in my office and the current leadership at VA Togus did a lot of work to get this case reopened and reconsidered and I want to thank them for that. They really went the extra mile to correct this decades-old mistake."
"It's really validating to know that the government was able to right a wrong that happened twenty-one years ago. The past can't change but this gives me a sense of resolution and peace," Moore said. "It makes me think I've finally won my battle, that I've finally beat something that has been haunting me for all these years. This also gives me hope that the VA can now understand what has happened to my MST brothers and sisters, and they can move forward to help them get the vital help that they need as well. Chellie Pingree and her staff are incredible advocates, but more importantly, they see and understand the horror that MST veterans live with."
Over the last two years, working with survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) who have had their disability claims denied, Pingree has helped veterans obtain approximately $900,000 in back benefits owed to them.
"The money is important, of course, but for survivors of MST the acknowledgement that the VA has listened to them and believes them is incredibly important. These veterans served our country and if they are suffering from PTSD because of a sexual assault while they were in uniform, we owe them disability benefits," Pingree said. "Unfortunately, MST claims haven't always been handled properly and sometimes that's where we have to step in."
Pingree has sponsored the Ruth Moore Act, a bill that will make it easier for survivors of military sexual assault get the benefits they deserve.
Moore is a veteran from Milbridge, Maine, who was raped twice after enlisting in the Navy at age 18. Moore reported the attacks, but the attacker was never charged or disciplined. At the time, Moore was labeled as suffering from mental illness and discharged from the Navy.