RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - According to the Department of Defense, about 15,000 sexual assaults occurred in the military in 2016.
Seven out of 10 service members who were assaulted did not report the assault. That could be because according to the DOD, there is a 9% conviction rate in these cases.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto explained to the group this was a fact finding mission on her part to learn more about women's experiences in the military and then in the veterans system once they were discharged.
The group of all ranks, ages, and branch of service were more than happy to share their experiences, including sexual assault.
“They actually said it would be better if he beat me up because then I would have proof. And they had done a sexual assault kit at the hospital which, I got my records later, which did indicate sexual assault,” said one woman veteran.
“I didn't report it when I was in because you get treated so poorly,” another woman veteran told the senator.
According to the senator, sexual assault in the military and the apathy it receives is not uncommon.
“I have to really talk to the women who are impacted and who were impacted, and understand this military culture and understand the chain of command,” said Cortez Masto, the junior senator from Nevada.
Cortez Masto says there are currently two bills in the senate which address sexual assault in the military.
One would remove chain of command from proceedings, another would change the internal structure of military court and how it handles sexual assault.
“I don't like a civilian (in military proceedings)… I don't think they understand the culture of the military. There is a culture that needs to be protected,” Pam Milligan, another veteran at the meeting told the senator.
This is the kind of input the senator sought.
She also asked the group about medical care once they got out of the service.
The group said care at the Veterans Hospital was excellent, but they had trouble accessing it in a timely matter.
Specialists in women's health aren't easy to come by at Veterans Hospitals.
The senator says there are proposals to get residents in the VA hospitals who work here for several years, and come out with their student loans paid off.