Military sexual trauma is a very real problem that is finally being acknowledged by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Military sexual trauma, or MST, is an emotional disorder that is the end result of someone being harassed, harmed, or subjected to unwanted sexual attention.
This disorder occurs in both men and women and symptoms can occur at any time after the event occurs.
Military sexual trauma is often classified as a version of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but should also be seen as separate anxiety disorder.
The VA defines military sexual trauma, as “psychological trauma resulting 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.”
Symptoms associated with military sexual trauma are very similar to those suffering from PTSD caused by other events.
People suffering with this disorder usually exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
• If still in active duty, they request transfers for no real reason to other duty stations, start showing poor work habits or become a risk taker when it comes to job duties.
• Many people suffering from this disorder suffer from nightmares and certain triggers that send them into a depressive or anxious state when they occur.
• It is not uncommon for people suffering from MST to try to self-medicate the emotional problems by using alcohol or drugs or both.
• Anger issues, self-loathing or shame. Many people turn inward and stop associating with others because they are ashamed of how they are being treated.
These are not all of the signs or symptoms associated with this disorder, just some of the more common signs. Only a medical professional can determine what experiences a person is having are directly related to this type of sexual trauma.
It should be known that military sexual trauma will impact nearly every area of a person’s life, especially those areas concerning their work, career and direct family home life.
People that are being sexually abused, harassed or victimized in this manner are most likely receiving the abuse while they are at their job post. This can lead to failures in career goals, unwilling changes in career path, or even the loss of employment due to the harassment and abuse.
Victims often feel very helpless because the abuse is coming from a person or persons that they must remain in close proximity to nearly all the time, even when the abuse is not taking place. This constant exposure to the abuser causes extensive anxiety and can lead to more trauma for the victim in the future.
At this time, the only benefits that are available to those who are a victim of military sexual trauma are mental health services. The victim does not have to qualify for any other benefits to receive this type of mental health help. Victims simply contact the VA and request mental health services for military sexual trauma.
This, however, does seem far for those who are experiencing life-changing anxiety and emotional issues from the trauma. This is why victims who are suffering from military sexual trauma are often categorized as having PTSD. There are special veterans benefits designated for military members that are suffering from PTSD.
Benefit amounts range from 10 to 100 percent disability, and the percentage is determined by the evidence that is provided on the extensiveness of the condition.
The application process for benefits can be confusing and a bit overwhelming. While the VA does not require any specific proof or documentation to receive mental health services for military sexual trauma, they do require extensive medical proof that the victim is suffering from PTSD.
Applicants will be required to fill out a benefits request packet and provide all the accompanying information showing that they have been diagnosed with PTSD and how severely it has affected their health and lifestyle.
Claims can be delayed or denied if any of the paperwork is incomplete, incorrect or missing any supporting documentation. Deadlines must be met at all times for submission of the paperwork, and any additional requests for paperwork, exams, or questioning must be complied with during the application process.
If the applicant does not feel comfortable with preparing this type of paperwork or feel too anxious to manage all of the necessary aspects related to filing for benefits, it may be in the best interest of the victim to seek assistance from a veterans benefits attorney. An attorney can help the victim through every step of the process, as well as through an appeals process if the claim has been denied.
Military sexual trauma is a very real problem for both men and women in the military. Statistic wise, more women are classified as being a victim of this type of trauma. However, many doctors believe that men are more reluctant to admit to this type of trauma and will seek help for their anxiety under different issues.
This is a problem that must be addressed at all times within the military. Changes to strictly enforce rules protecting service members from unwanted sexual advances or worse should be openly welcomed. However, even if this does occur, there are still men and women who are already suffering from the effects of military sexual trauma. Ensuring that they receive the care they need to recover from this type of traumatic event is just as important.
If you have been victimized by another person and are now suffering mental anguish and anxiety as a result, you may be entitled to certain VA benefits. Speak with an attorney about your right to seek benefits and compensation for your condition as well as making sure that you are receiving the proper mental health help that is provided by the VA for this purpose.
How to Make a Claim for Veterans Disability
If you are a veteran and are suffering from a military related disability, you may be entitled to compensation and benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA) to help cover the costs associated with your disability. These disability programs are in place to help those who have honorably served their country.
The most common type of disability benefits requested are PTSD claims. PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is an anxiety and stress related health condition that occurs when a person suffers through a traumatic event. Many service members who serve in a war zone suffer from this medical condition.
PTSD claims for benefits will require that the person suffering from the condition prepare an application, submit all of the accompanying medical records showing the diagnosis and treatment plan for the condition, as well as service records, proof of the event that caused the PTSD and other requested documentation.
This application process can become quite confusing and cause a lot of anxiety. Missed deadlines, forgotten documentation, or even blank answers can cause the application process to be delayed or denied.
Veterans are encouraged to speak with a West Virginia disability lawyer about their claim. The attorney can help you through the claim process, regardless of what part you are at when you contact them, and help fight for the benefits that are deserved.
The largest benefit of using a West Virginia disability lawyer for assistance when applying for PTSD benefits is the stress relief you will experience. Knowing that someone who is familiar with the way the disability program works is handling the application will allow you to concentrate on other areas of your life.