The number of women serving in the military is rising fast. In fact, there were more than 280,000 females who recently returned home from Afghanistan and Iraq deployments. Unfortunately, though, the VA has found through recent studies that one in four women state that they have experienced sexual assault or harassment, and this includes those in the military.
The VA itself has been sluggish to adjust to the uprising number of females in the military. Did you know that it wasn’t that long ago that some VA health care centers had only male restrooms? When females enter VA establishments, they are assumed to be waiting on their husbands (or lost). Many women are rising up, though, strongly suggesting that VA centers offer more help for women suffering from military sexual trauma, and there are also those who are demanding child care and separate waiting rooms.
“One type of personal assault is MST, which is defined by Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D 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 or active duty for training.” The VA defines sexual harassment as “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”
This year, the government ended a requirement by stating that military service members no longer need proof of being harassed or assaulted before being able to receive adequate health care services. Before this change was made, due to a lack of paperwork to aid their claims, many female veterans were faced with the problem of not being able to tap into benefits or disability compensation for sexual trauma. Now, however, they are being told to reapply for benefits. A lot of times women don’t actually report the sexual assault incidents; therefore they lack the documentation and medical records that the VA would have priorly needed to provide benefits.
If you have suffered from a military sexual assault, it is imperative that you seek treatment, including counseling. For more information on how to file a claim for benefits, check out this website.