Recently proposed legislation would serve to force the Department of Defense (DoD) to permanently maintain records on military sexual trauma (MST). Current regulations do not provide for permanent maintenance of such records and in most cases the records end up being destroyed. MST victims applying for disability benefits post-military separation will likely find it impossible to be granted compensation without being able to supply documentary evidence.
The Support for Survivors Act (S. 658), if passed, will force the Secretary of Defense (SoD) to find the most suitable and efficient means in which to electronically store DoD documentary evidence of MST. Additionally, the SoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary will be directed to form a joint task force.
That task force will be charged with deciding how to best represent the MST information. They will recommend using either the current DoD generated documents, or creating a new form of evidence. This new evidence will be used in lieu of current DoD documents.
In the end, passing the bill will provide great help for MST victims. Not only will it help those MST victims deserving of compensation be awarded that compensation, it will help establish treatment programs for those victims because records documenting the incident will be available for reference.
Many MST victims do not seek out treatment immediately following the traumatic incident. Therapy may not be sought for years after the event for any number of reasons, including the stigma associated with being a victim of such a crime and the hostility with which some victims are met when attempting to seek justice. Many times, the physical and mental issues brought on by the traumatic event do not immediately manifest themselves. Without the possibility of supporting their disability claim, and receiving benefits to which they are entitled, many MST victims will not have the ability to seek therapy.
The Support for Survivors Act would also help those MST victims choosing to pursue legal action against their attacker. The Act serves to benefit MST victims on many levels, should it be passed.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.