Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Too Often, Military Sexual Assault Survivors Must Fight for Disability Benefits
One in five servicewomen is raped, sometimes multiple times, during her military career. One in 100 men also experiences rape during military service. Rape may occur in boot camp, basic training, on board ships, on bases, or in military facilities all over the world. It may involve superior officers, subordinates, or people of the same rank. And, for some survivors, it results in a constellation of mental health symptoms including depression, anxiety, and stress, characterizing what the Veterans Administration refers to as Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
Related to post-traumatic stress disorder, MST can be a debilitating condition that may result in involuntary discharge on the basis of health concerns or a decision not to reenlist after serving. Once veterans return to civilian life, though, those with MST often struggle to get the service-connected disability benefits they need to help them access treatment. In this way, rape survivors are being victimized again—this time, by the very agency tasked with helping them.