Many times victims of sexual assault while in the military cannot access medical care or draw disability compensation for their injuries. This occurs because they cannot prove they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) does not believe this is how the military should treat sexual trauma victims and is trying to change things by introducing new legislation (HR 930). Should it pass, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be required to accept a victims’ explanation of their sexual trauma as proof of the event if there are no other medical or police reports or other documentation linking the origin of the victim’s mental condition to another event.
Given the current systems’ limitations, proving sexual assault is not the easiest thing to accomplish, according to Pingree. Many victims never make file formal complaints due to fear of retaliation or shame over the event. Other times the complaints they file are simply destroyed. Victims almost never talk to their friends or family about these things, so it isn’t even possible to bring them in as some sort of evidence. Standard defense and service policies mandate potential evidence such as rape kits and certain medical records be routinely destroyed. Without them, proving sexual trauma becomes almost impossible.
If a veteran is diagnosed with PTSD or other mental health disorders, and a veteran makes a written statement about being the victim of a sexual assault, and that statement is consistent with their military service, the VA must acknowledge that sexual trauma being linked to their military service. This would then qualify the veteran for medical care and disability compensation, as it should.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact LaVan & Neidenberg. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.