The brave men and women who serve in our country’s military forces often return home with severe physical and emotional damage. These harms can have long-lasting effects, significantly impacting relationship and even one’s ability to find and hold a job. Fortunately, federal programs exist to help our veterans find financial stability and settle into civilian life. Though many may be familiar with Social Security disability benefits, few may be aware that veterans who suffered sexual trauma while serving may qualify.
Federal law defines military sexual trauma as any physical assault, battery, or sexual harassment, occurring while on active duty, or in active or inactive duty training, which results in psychological trauma. Though Social Security disability will not compensate for the trauma alone, it may provide benefits for the effects of military sexual trauma. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder may result, which could then qualify a victim for SSD benefits.
Proving military sexual trauma, however, is not always easy. To make a successful claim, a victim may need to show investigative reports. With that being said, the VA recognizes that many instances of sexual assault and harassment goes unreported, and it has therefore relaxed some of the evidentiary requirements. This means that showing some proof of evidentiary markers may be sufficient. Therefore, proof of mental health counseling, pregnancy tests, statements from counselors, family members, and roommates, requests to transfer assignments, evidence of substance abuse and deteriorating work performance, relationship challenges, and unexplained social and behavioral changes may be enough to qualify one for benefits.
Dealing with these mattes properly requires a delicate hand and knowledge of the law. Those who suffered military sexual trauma may therefore want to discuss the matter with an experienced legal team who can help guide them through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Military Sexual Trauma,” accessed on Dec. 20, 2015