Nearly 150,000 people have signed a petition asking the Veterans Affairs Department to drop a requirement that veterans filing disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of sexual trauma show proof of the trauma.
The change.org petition — kick started by Ruth Moore, a former sailor who says she was raped at her first duty station — urges VA to overhaul evidence rules for PTSD related to military sexual trauma and to accept veterans’ statements about an event in the absence of police, medical or eyewitness reports. In the absence of records showing the assault, the VA accepts service records or medical records that indicate a change of behavior that could be caused by a traumatic event, such as a drop in work performance, change in attendance, substance abuse or depression. VA also accepts statements from family, friends, counselors and victim advocates in the absence of corroborating evidence of rape or abuse.
Dropping the evidence requirement for sexual trauma victims would streamline VA rules. Veterans claiming combat-related PTSD do not have to prove a specific event triggered their disorder. According to the veterans advocacy group Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), VA approves only 32 percent of PTSD claims related to military sexual assault, compared with roughly 53 percent of PTSD claims related to other traumatic events.
Unless, the VA accepts this change, veterans who are victims of sexual assault may have trouble winning their sexual assault claims with the VA.
Legal Help for Veterans Who Were Sexually Assaulted
Denial of a sexual assault claim can be a slap in the face to a veteran who is a victim. Bosley & Bratch have the experience necessary to win these claims. If you need help, please contact us.