Monday, March 4, 2013

Sexual Assault Bill

Jim Fausone
Veteran Disability Attorney

One of the saddest situations we help with involves military sexual trauma (MST). The rape of men and women in the military is a black stain on the Defense Department. The VA disability process only makes this stain more stubborn.  
We have developed an approach that looks at markers that show the MST even when it has not been reported.  The fact is that 70-80% of MST is not reported.  We often approach the VA process to prove the mental aspect of the MST, such depression, PTSD, etc.  We point out the fall off of performance ratings, discipline issues, AWOL, drug use, alcoholism or dark letters home. 

This unique problem is now getting Congressional attention. The Ruth Moore Act aims to reduce the standard of proof for victims of military sexual assault so that they can more easily obtain benefits, similar to how the Veterans Administration two and a half years ago relaxed the burden of proof for combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.  The Ruth Moore Act, if it passes, would make it so that victims need only a diagnosis of a mental health condition and a link between the assault and that condition to receive benefits.  This is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope Veteran Service Organizations support this bill and Congress acts on this bill.


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