by Kristina Derro
Veteran Disability Lawyer
A 2008 survey performed by the military revealed that over 21% of service women are victims of Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Unfortunately, due to the private nature and the stigma attached to this type of assault, along with the embarrassment and fear of retaliation that the victims have, most incidents go unreported. In fact, the Department of Defense has acknowledged that 75% of MSTs are not reported.
Victims of MST suffer through the initial assault and the repercussions during his or her time in service. The victims then end up being re-victimized when they apply for compensation from VA for the assault they suffered. The majority of VA claims for compensation for MST are denied because of a lack of documentation proving that they occurred. At this time, military records documenting MST are destroyed between one and five years after filing. This provides no lasting record for the MST victims.
A new piece of legislation has been recently introduced into Congress by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and is authored by members of both political parties. This Bill will change the way records regarding MST are made and retained across all five branches of the military. The goal is to allow MST records to be kept for a longer period of time, allowing the documentation to be available if and when the veteran ultimately applies for service connection years down the road. The Bill also includes provisions for research on sexual assault and harassment into the military, in an attempt to discover ways to combat and prevent MST from happening in the first instance.
Read more about this piece of legislation at: http://www.vabenefitblog.com/new-bill-addresses-record-keeping-for-military-sexual-trauma/
Do not be discouraged if you suffered from MST while in the military and failed to report it. Here at Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC (LHFV), we have been successful in getting benefits for those service men and women who either did not report the incident at the time it occurred, or had the records destroyed by the time they filed for VA benefits. In lieu of official military documents, we have used testimony from friends and family members who noticed pronounced changes in behavior in the veteran after the MST. Further, military performance reviews that have documented a significant and sudden decrease in performance have also been helpful in indicating that an MST occurred.
To learn more or to contact a Veterans disability lawyer, Veterans disability attorney, Veterans lawyer, or Veterans attorney call 1.800.693.4800 or visit Legalhelpforveterans.com