Are sex trauma victims treated unfairly in veterans' benefits?

A serious problem has been affecting the victims of military sexual trauma, and it is not just the fact that many of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. According to two veterans groups, the victims of military sexual trauma are suffering from discrimination when trying to apply for veterans' benefits on the basis of post-traumatic stress syndrome induced by military sexual trauma. According to Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), those who have post-traumatic stress syndrome have a harder time qualifying for benefits if the post-traumatic stress is attributed to sexual assault.

In a recently filed federal complaint, the veterans' advocacy groups say that military sexual trauma victims have to go through several more steps in order to qualify for compensation to pay for their medical care and recovery. As compared to veterans who have PTSD caused by combat, those who have PTSD caused by sex trauma also have a 16 to 30 percent lower chance of getting the benefits they need. Further, the lawsuit claims that male victims of military sexual trauma have a mere 37 percent chance of getting their benefits claims approved versus females who have a much higher chance of approval. These victims can be found throughout the nation, in Pennsylvania and other states.

The fact is that military sexual trauma is a serious problem in the United States armed forces. Many politicians in Congress are attempting to get new legislation and reforms passed regarding sexual assault in the armed forces. These laws could serve to more severely punish the perpetrators of such heinous acts.

In the meantime, veterans who were victimized by sexual abuse by fellow officers and/or superiors in the military may have viable claims for veterans' benefits for continuing medical conditions relating to that abuse. Pennsylvania men and women who risk their lives in the United States military do so at an enormous cost to themselves and their families, but the risk of being subjected to sexual abuse should never be one of those costs. It can be hoped that more victims of such abuse come forward, reveal their abuser and seek the medical attention and veterans' benefits they justly deserve.

Source: msmagazine.com, "Veterans Groups File Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination Against Military Sexual Trauma Survivors", , May 7, 2014

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