Help for Sexual Assault Victims & The Greatest Generation

Before the 115th Congress concludes, the House of Representatives will take up an important bill I cosponsored with Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), the Megan Rondini Sexual Assault Victims Protection Act.

The namesake of the bill was a student at the University of Alabama. One night, Megan was raped by a man from a prominent local family. She went to the local hospital and reported the incident to the police, but the hospital did not have the proper resources to deal with sexual assault, and the police soon focused on infractions they believed she had committed.

The district attorney did not pursue a case against Megan’s attacker, and her emotional and mental state declined. She transferred universities, but still, the rape and its aftermath haunted her, and ultimately, she took her own life.

Megan’s story shows that we have to do better for sexual assault victims. The bill introduced in her name will help.

Under the provisions of the Megan Rondini Sexual Assault Victims Protection Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) would set up a task force to identify the barriers that block access to sexual assault forensic examiners, sexual assault nurse examiners, and other forensic medical examiners. The task force would help states improve their ability to gather evidence.

When this bill becomes law, by July 1, 2019, the HHS website would include resources and best practices developed by stakeholders for responding to sexual assault, and an annual summit would be convened by the Secretary to address gaps in health care regarding sexual assault.

Improving responses to sexual assault cases will also be the subject of an upcoming hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, of which I am Vice Chairman. We will examine the availability of Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (SAFE kits) and sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) in hospitals.

By improving access to proper resources and professionals trained in responding to sexual assault, we can help support the victims of these heinous crimes.

The Greatest Generation

The nation paused for several days to say goodbye to George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, who died on November 30.

In one sense, his passing was a rare event. He was one of only 44 people who have held the office of president since the Constitution went into effect in 1789, and the last president to pass away was Gerald Ford in 2006. Further, he was only the second president to also be the father of a president, following John Adams and his son, John Quincy.

But in another sense, this event was all too common. President Bush was one more of the World War II veterans who are rapidly slipping away from us. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs projected in November that only 496,777 World War II veterans remained alive, and 348 of them pass away each day.

President Bush’s service in World War II would have been noteworthy even if he did not subsequently have the illustrious life he led. He enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday and become one of the youngest aviators in the Navy. While flying in a mission over Chi Chi Jima in 1944, his plane was hit by Imperial Japanese antiaircraft fire. The plane completed its mission before Bush had to bail out; while the other crew members were killed, he parachuted into the Pacific Ocean and was rescued by a U.S. submarine after several hours on a raft.

The death of President Bush came only days after Ray Chavez, the oldest living survivor of Pearl Harbor, passed away at the age of 106. When asked by CNN about how much he thought of the events of December 7, 1941, and his service, he said, “Every day. And not hysterical or mean thoughts about it — it was great. But it never goes away. All of what you see and learned.”

For the first time since the attack, this year’s remembrance ceremony at Pearl Harbor included no survivors of the USS Arizona, the battleship most devastated by the air raid. Five survivors remain alive, but none could return to commemorate the “date which will live in infamy.”

Journalist Tom Brokaw famously labelled them “The Greatest Generation,” and their accomplishments were incredible – not only the heroism of their wartime service, but their contributions upon coming home. As we honor President Bush, let us also honor all the members of his generation who gave so much on behalf of our country.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.