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Pingree asks intelligence officials to make changes to security clearance procedure

Change wouldprotect victims of military sexual trauma

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has asked the Director of National Intelligence to change the questionnaire used when granting security clearances. In a letter to General James Clapper, Pingree said victims of military sexual trauma who have received counseling should not have to disclose that in the questionnaire.

"Many victims of sexual assault in the military don't seek counseling because they are afraid it will make them ineligible for the security clearances they need to advance in their career," Pingree said. "Victims of military sexual trauma shouldn't be punished for being a victim of a horrible crime."

In 2008, the questionnaire was changed so that military personnel suffering from combat-related PTSD no longer have to disclose counseling related to treatment, and Pingree says it's only fair to extend that protection to victims of sexual assault.

"That policy change was an attempt to reduce the stigma attached to mental health counseling and the perception that it could threaten a career. While I am pleased that the question was changed regarding combat veterans, a large population of military members and veterans were excluded — victims of military sexual assault," Pingree wrote to Clapper.

Pingree has been fighting for the rights of men and women who are victims of sexual assault while in uniform, and has urged the Obama Administration to lower standards of proof for victims when applying for benefits.

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