Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is a devastating trauma that victims want to forget. I will be opening up this sensitive topic today for those who would like more information about the compensation for conditions associated with this trauma. Also, how the VA recognizes this and how to be compensated for this devastating, lifetime injury. Because it is hard to talk about, think about, and relive, it is often overlooked as a paid disability. I would like to bring awareness to the VA Claims Insider Community about MST.
What is MST?
Here is the VA definition found from the VA.
“The definition used by the VA comes from Federal law (Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D) and is “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.”
This definition covers a vast variety of circumstances that can cause physical, mental, and emotional trauma, which in my opinion, the VA has done correctly. Trauma in itself affects everyone differently, then you factor in the severity of the incident and the person whom it has affected, and it is hard to be consistent across the board with a rating. The VA does not recognize MST as a ratable condition. However, you can receive compensation for conditions that result from it. Because of this, the VA put some extra focus on this area regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental and psychological conditions linked to MST.
I found the following information straight from the VA website, the full article can be found here. I would like to highlight a few of the conditions associated with victims, men and women, suffering from PTSD and other related mental and physical conditions:
- Strong emotions: feeling depressed; having intense, sudden emotional responses to things; feeling angry or irritable all the time
- Feelings of numbness: feeling emotionally “flat”; difficulty experiencing emotions like love or happiness
- Trouble sleeping: trouble falling or staying asleep; disturbing nightmares
- Difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory: trouble staying focused; frequently finding their mind wandering; having a hard time remembering things
- Problems with alcohol or other drugs: drinking to excess or using drugs daily; getting intoxicated or “high” to cope with memories or emotional reactions; drinking to fall asleep.
- A difficulty with things that remind them of their experiences of sexual trauma: feeling on edge or “jumpy” all the time; difficulty feeling safe; going out of their way to avoid reminders of their experiences
- Difficulties with relationships: feeling isolated or disconnected from others; abusive relationships; trouble with employers or authority figures; difficulty trusting others
- Physical health problems: sexual difficulties; chronic pain; weight or eating issues; gastrointestinal problems
It is also stated that because a lot of sexual trauma goes unreported, the evidence is accepted from sources that most claims would not allow. Here are some examples of those options:
- Department of Defense sexual assault or harassment reporting forms
- Investigative Reports completed during military service
- Law enforcement reports
- Mental Health Counseling Centers
- Requests for transfer to another military duty assignment
- Decrease work performance
- Unexplained behavior (economic or social)
- Sexual dysfunction
Since 2011 the VA has raised awareness of this issue, there is no additional mandatory training all VA raters and C&P examiners have to have to conduct these examinations. Specific lines of questioning and training to find further marker evidence to support the claim as well. Here is the reference for the evidence information and additional info about MST.
On behalf of VA Claims Insider, I would like to offer my assistance to any victim of this abuse. If any of you would feel more comfortable talking to a woman, I am available and have personal experience with this form of trauma. My name is Rachelle and I am the Veteran Engagement Manager for VA Claims Insider. I have access to many resources to get a discrete plan in place for you and your claim.
I would like to add, it is never your fault that any of these things happened to you and you have nothing to be ashamed of to pursue a claim for this. I can be reached here, our conversations will be completely confidential, and everything will remain discreet throughout the entire claims process. For more information about our memberships and our VA Claims Insider Mission, please visit our website.
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About the Author
About VA Claims Insider
VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.