Silent Trauma Compensation
By Linda Thompson, LCSW
August 10, 2018
Some Veterans may have experienced sexual trauma (men & women) while serving in the military. These kinds of experiences can affect Veterans' mental and physical health, even many years later.
Veterans can apply for disability compensation for any current difficulties that are related to their service, including difficulties related to Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Disabilities determined by VA to be related to your military service can lead to monthly non-taxable compensation, enrollment in the VA health care system, and other important benefits.
Veterans are not granted compensation for the traumatic event itself, but can be granted disability compensation for conditions that result from MST. Exposure to any trauma can potentially result in PTSD or another mental health disorder.
PTSD is the most common mental health diagnosis related to experiencing MST.
Evidence required can be forms used in reporting incidents of sexual assault or harassment, as well as investigative reports during military service. However, VA knows that events involving sexual trauma are not always officially reported. Therefore, for PTSD claims related to MST, VA has relaxed the evidentiary requirements and looks for "markers" (i.e., signs, events, or circumstances) that provide some indication that the traumatic event happened.
Because military service records may lack corroborating evidence that a stressful event occurred, VA regulations make clear that evidence from non-military sources may be used to corroborate the Veteran's account of the MST. Further, when direct evidence of an MST is not available, VA may request a medical opinion to consider a veteran's account and any "markers" to corroborate the occurrence of the MST event as related to current PTSD symptoms.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), PTSD is more prevalent among females than males across the lifespan. Females in the general population experience PTSD for a longer duration than do males. At least some of the increased risk for PTSD in females appears to be attributable to a greater likelihood of exposure to traumatic events, such as rape, and other forms of interpersonal violence.
Also, females appear at greater risk for developing PTSD from various forms of interpersonal violence among those who work in career fields dominated by males.