The battle over how the military deals with sexual assaults hit the floor Tuesday in the U.S. Senate.
The issue, revealed in a recent KCTV5 investigation, encouraged another veteran to share his story of abuse after 44 years of silence.
"It was a very desolate island, but I was led to believe what we were doing there was important to our national defense," said a man KCTV5 is calling Paul.
Back in the summer of 1969, fresh out of Air Force tech school Paul flew to his first assignment.
"Don't get me wrong, I loved and believed in the military, that's why I committed my life or tried to commit my life to it," he said.
It was on a remote radar site in Iceland. There wasn't much to do after hours and heavy drinking was quite common by his fellow airmen. One picture shows that, if you passed out, they wrote all over you.
There was a night 44 years ago that changed Paul's life.
"At 18 years of age I don't think most of us have any idea of what life is all about and to deal with circumstances, much less a brutal rape," he said.
Paul told his commanding officer about the incident.
"There was not a whole lot he could do about it and it was just dropped, end of story," he said.
More than four decades later, military men and women are reluctant to tell anyone about abuse. The Pentagon says 3,300 cases of sexual assault were filed last year, but the military believes incidents of unwanted sexual contact could actually be as high as 26,000.
"We have a number of victims of both genders in the military," said Missouri U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.
McCaskill is pushing for changes in military justice to give victims more resources for help. She's looking into Paul's story since his veteran's benefits for therapy for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were denied because of his income.
"We've got to do better to make sure, no matter where you are, who you are, if you were sexually assaulted as part of your military service, that the military takes care of you just the way you've taken care of us," she said.
It was Paul's faith and wife that have helped give him strength to come out of the shadows nearly half a century later.
"I want people to know there are good people out there, who are trying help us," Paul said. "If one person hears this and comes forward and does something and gets help - because it's wrong and there's accountability for that wrong - this will be worth it," he said.
There are two basic proposed plans for changes that will effect service members in the Kansas City metro. One takes the commander completely out of the reporting process. The other, McCaskill's plan, keeps the commander in the system, but gives victims more resources for help. That one is backed by the Pentagon.
Both plans have bipartisan support, something not often seen in Washington.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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