VA wrongly denies hundreds of victims of military sexual trauma (MST) claims while on base. These victims have PTSD, with no compensation awarded. The number of unawarded claims is estimated to be around 1,300.
How were these cases mishandled
In the majority of the cases found, the VA did not order the necessary medical documents or a medical exam. Veterans would come into the office for a sexual abuse claim, and no medical work would be commissioned.
The VA employees who were placed on these files had no additional training on how to properly file the claim. The VA office states that their employees participated in one-time training, but other resources for this type of claim was not necessary.
VA facilities have begun to dismiss sexual assault claims so that they do not have low rates.
According to USA Today, there are reports of cases being reporting and a VA facility dismissing the case without a medical exam from 2017. The VA also quit conducting audits over how well facilities were assessing sexual trauma claims in 2015. The reasoning behind this decision to stop the checks is because the error rates declined, according to one interview.
The VA Department says that it will apply the suggestions made to their facilities.
In many cases, victims of sexual assault were not asked in their evaluation of the event and how it affected them.
If you or someone you know suffered from military sexual trauma you are still encouraged to resubmit your claim.
Additionally, when submitting obtain statements from anyone you may have confided in during the time of the assault
In 2011, the VA added more steps to the process for MST claims. MST applications are supposed to be handled with extra care. Training was also called to be mandatory to look for signs of sexual assault.
What to do with your claim
Many long-term effects are resulting from sexual assault. Those include PTSD, anxiety, and depression, to name a few.
As with all claims, you must have a diagnosis. This is the description of how this incident which happened while deployed is currently affecting your life. MST itself does not qualify for your diagnosis. The diagnosis must be PTSD, anxiety, etc.
To apply for compensation, one must file the VA’s compensation forms and include Nexus letter, Buddy Letters, and medical records from your healthcare provider.
Include with your claim descriptions from people close to you about how this incident affected your daily work. This can be done by submitting letters from these people close to you.
If you are currently in the military service and have recently been raped or experienced sexual trauma, you must request for your military records to be saved. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect system so many times these records get deleted. By asking for a copy of your medical and military records as well, you can protect yourself.
If you can get records from a non-military health provider, this could help win your claim. Hospitals not affiliated are more likely to keep your files and extra information is necessary for your request to the VA.
Even with these new changes, this is not a perfect system. If you need help with your claim and figuring out how to compile evidence for your request, please reach out to us. We have a team of trained professionals who are waiting to help you.