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Military Sexual Trauma: Improvements Made, but VA Can Do More to Track and Improve the Consistency of Disability Claim Decisions
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Daniel Bertoni (au)
Trauma resulting from sexual abuse while in military service -- referred to as military sexual trauma (MST) -- is a pervasive and continuing problem among U.S. servicemembers. In 2012, 1 in 5 female and 1 in 100 male veterans told the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) that they had experienced sexual abuse in the military. Referred to as military sexual trauma or MST, such abuse can result in disabling conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may entitle a veteran to VA benefits. Yet, establishing that MST occurred -- a prerequisite for approving these claims -- can be difficult, given that servicemembers may be unwilling to file formal complaints. In 2002, VA broadened the scope of allowable evidence for MST-related claims to include indicators, such as behavioral changes. Beginning in 2011, the Veterans Benefits Admin. (VBA) took additional steps to clarify the 2002 changes. This report examines: (1) steps VA took to improve MST-related decisions; (2) results of its actions; and (3) the extent it is evaluating the quality of claim decisions. Figures. This is a print on demand report.
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