Military LawsuitTwo veterans advocacy groups have filed federal complaints regarding the treatment of sexual trauma survivors. Vietnam Veterans of America and the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) have spearheaded litigation claiming that the disability claims of military sexual trauma (MST) victims are being unfairly denied. The lawsuit says that these sexual assault victims have legitimate symptoms and diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); nevertheless, they must overcome stiffer resistance and more procedural red tape than other PTSD sufferers in order to get the benefits they deserve.

MST Victims Less Likely to Receive Benefits

Allegedly, veterans who have combat-related PTSD simply have to provide a written statement in order to qualify for benefits. Conversely, those with PTSD arising out of MST are required to submit proof of the PTSD being the result of military activities, court documents and other information. The lawsuit further states that a lower percentage of MST victims are granted disability benefits as compared to their fellow soldiers who have combat-related PTSD. Gender discrimination is also being claimed, mainly in reference to the fact that only 37 percent of male MST victims are granted the disability they apply for.

SWAN's executive director recently stated that the VA is aware of their unfair treatment of MST survivors. The director said that in spite of the VA's awareness, it is not doing anything to change its regulations. As a result, MST victims cannot receive benefits they need to seek treatment and support their families, the director said.

MST Is a Continuing Problem in the Military

Approximately 26,000 instances of reported sexual assault and undesired sexual contact occurred in 2012 alone. In 2013, sexual assault reports increased by 50 percent. The issue of Military Sexual Trauma is serious and many legislators in Congress have been advocating to reform military procedures and laws in order to increase the punishment of offenders who are responsible for the abuse. In the meantime, even though the situation may be more difficult for MST victims with PTSD verses other PTSD suffers, these victims do have the right to seek veterans' benefits under the law and they can increase their chances of being approved of those benefits through the careful application of that law.