Veterans Affairs regional offices in different states, including Texas, are less likely to give soldiers and veterans benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder if their claims give sexual trauma as the cause. Although the overall number of approved PTSD claims for male and female victims of sexual assault or harassment increased in 2012, troops often fare better in getting VA benefits when they list other causes for PTSD.
VA offices in different regions are responsible for making the decisions on whether to approve PTSD claims. Different VA offices see a significantly smaller number of sexual trauma-related PTSD claims than combat-related PTSD claims. In certain parts of California and Tennessee, the number of sexual trauma claims that were approved went up in 2012. Regional offices in other states, such as Michigan and Minnesota, have seen lower approval rates.
In the military, sexual trauma is defined as sexual activity between two or more people where one individual is forced to perform sexual acts against his or her will. When making claims of personal or sexual trauma, claimants often have to provide information on how the sexual or physical assault or domestic battery resulted in physical, mental or emotional harm.
VA offices often investigate a PTSD claim based on sexual or personal trauma by looking into soldier’s record, history of duty assignments, counseling records and any documents related to the time that he or she served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Coast or National Guard or Air Force. They also look into hospital and police records related to the event and require the claimant to get a medical exam to prove the claim.
Source: Texas Veterans Commission, “Non-Combat PTSD – Military Sexual Trauma (MST)/Personal Trauma”
Source: CNN, “Report: Troops filing sexual trauma claims less likely to get PTSD benefits“, Greg Botelho, November 07, 2013