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VA Focuses on Disabled Veterans Suffering from Military Sexual Trauma

Up until recently, Military Sexual Trauma (MST) has been a rarely discussed topic among military officials and servicemembers. Part of the reason is the stigma related to the acknowledgement of such attacks. Many disabled veterans choose to hide their traumatic experiences, and only during a disability evaluation are they sometimes addressed. When you have the help of a South Florida veterans disability representative you can discuss the best method of documentation to obtain for justifying your service-connected disability.

Defining Military Sexual Trauma

MST is the term used to describe any sexual assault or continued sexually harassing behavior that a servicemember experiences. The VA includes the following as examples of MST:

  • pressure to engage in sexual activities under threat of negative consequences or for implied positive benefits;
  • inability to consent to sexual activity (i.e. intoxication);
  • physically forced into sexual activity;
  • unwanted sexual touching or grabbing;
  • offensive remarks about a servicemember’s body or sexual behavior; and
  • threatening or unwanted sexual advances.

The Connection between MST and Veterans’ Disability

The damage done by military sexual trauma can impact a servicemember both physically and mentally. While the physical wounds may heal over time, they often leave emotional damages that can develop into disabling conditions if they are not treated appropriately.

Both male and female servicemembers may experience MST. Data from the VHA indicates that one out of every five female veterans and one out of every hundred male veterans respond “yes” when asked if they were subjected to MST.

The physical damages from MST can range from sexual dysfunction to chronic pain and are often worsened by the accompanying mental trauma. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be associated with MST, and many veterans have also faced substance abuse, relationship issues, trouble concentrating, and suicide risks as a result of a MST event.

Seeking Help for MST-Related Disabling Conditions

Some veterans who apply for veterans disability benefits for a disabling condition related to military sexual assault may run into problems with evidence for their claim. While the stigma of reporting these events has decreased in recent years, there is still a long history of cover-ups and fear of retaliation for reporting these traumatic events.

Before filing your claim it is important to understand the types of evidence that will support your claim. If the MST was undocumented you may have to rely on fellow servicemembers’ testimony or military records to help prove your case.

This can be a very delicate topic to discuss and care should be taken in preparing your claim to avoid unnecessary denials. A veterans’ disability advocate can provide you with the support necessary to develop the best case for your right to disability benefits.

Whether you’re applying for disability benefits for the first time or you’ve received a notice of denial and wish to appeal the decision, Disability Help Group are here to help. Before making a decision, request a copy of our FREE guide for Veterans’ disability benefit claims. To schedule a no cost claim evalutation, contact us today – 1-(800)-800-3332.