A 2005, VA report indicates that across National Guard and reserve components the estimated prevalence of military sexual trauma (MST) of any type among females is 60% and among males is 27%. Military sexual trauma includes sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. The report also states the estimated prevalence for rape among females is 11% and among males is 1.2%.
Like claims for service connection for PTSD, claims for service connection for military sexual trauma require corroboration of the trauma. The corroboration can range from a record of treatment or a report of sexual assault, to an increase in medical treatment for non-specific conditions, or a decrease in work performance. The latter examples are called “markers.”
Proving that you suffered some form of sexual trauma can be very difficult, however victims of military sexual trauma should not be discouraged from filing for service connection because they fear being unable to corroborate the event. Many times these events were not reported, or not recorded in writing by a superior. Proving your trauma through the careful documentation of “markers,” which are basically a pattern of changes in behavior, can work. VA will ask you to provide many details of the event, which may be difficult for you to recount, but an experienced advocate can assist you in providing the answers and minimizing the trauma associated with reliving the event.
Service connection can be granted for psychological or physical conditions caused by military sexual trauma, including PTSD.
This article is authored through the collaborative efforts of Shana Dunn and other legal professionals at West & Dunn, a law firm dedicated to providing high quality legal services to individuals and businesses, with a particular focus on assisting veterans of the United States Armed Forces. If you have questions or would like assistance with your VA claim, the attorneys at West & Dunn can be reached at (608) 490-9449.