The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently conducted a survey that showed 1/3 of female veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder had reported having been raped, sexually harassed, or sexually assaulted and forced sexual contact occurred with every 1 in 100 male veterans. The results forced the VA to revamp how sexual trauma disability claims are handled, according to an article in The Navy Times.
The VA issued new guidelines to all regional offices to be used when evaluating claims from soldiers for PTSD brought on by military sexual trauma (MST). The VA has in place certain specific requirements veterans must meet when filing for disability compensation claims. Specifically, most claims must contain:
- a statement from the veteran;
- evidence of participation in a traumatic event; or
- medical documentation supporting a diagnosis.
Under the new guidelines, those reviewing MST disability claims are encouraged to look for proof that a physical attack or harassment happened, which will be considered in conjunction with the veteran’s statement. That evidence can come in multiple forms, which includes:
- pregnancy tests;
- claimants seeking mental health attention for depression; and/or
- requests for assignments to new units.
The VA acknowledges the difficulty veterans encounter in reporting MST at the time when it happens. Therefore, the new guidelines instruct examiners to “weigh evidence in a ‘light most favorable to the veteran.’”
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from Veterans Help Group is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-855-855-8992.