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Sexual assaults overlooked by VA

Many veterans who struggle with mental health issues stemming from sexual violence have have a deaf ear turned to their concern by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A report by the Service Women’s Action Network, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School titled “Battle for Benefits: VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma,” found that veterans benefits for those struggling after being sexually assaulted during service are harder to come by.

According to this report, VA expects survivors to submit documentation that often does not exist, such as official reports of rapes or the results of STD or pregnancy tests, according to the authors of the report on Slate. The report said each year from 2008 to 2012, the rate for granting claims of sexual trauma related PTSD was between 16 and 30 percent.

“This disparity is particularly disturbing because sexual assault is more strongly correlated with PTSD in veterans than any other trauma, including combat trauma,” the report’s authors said. “The numbers make clear that many military sexual trauma survivors who suffer from debilitating mental health conditions are not getting the disability benefits they need and deserve.”

The Pentagon said men made up over half the military’s sexual assault victims in 2012. However, they were only granted 37 percent of veterans benefits in 2011, compared with 49 percent of women.

PTSD is a serious and debilitating illness, regardless of how a veteran became afflicted. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates are experts in proving PTSD cases and are available to assist veterans with their claims.