Attorney for MST Veterans
Rape, sexual assault, and reoccurring sexual harassment fall under MST. Every veteran who suffers from these experiences respond to it in their own way. Many veterans often find themselves numb to the incident. The psychological trauma that follows from such a horrific event can take years to become apparent. For other veterans, the weight of the trauma is felt immediately following the occurrence of MST.
Pain and suffering tied to MST often morphs into harmful psychological conditions threatening the health and well-being of the victim and his or her family. Veterans have several options available to help deal with their pain and suffering. Veterans who have diagnosable conditions like PTSD may be eligible for disability compensation through the VA system.
Unfortunately, a veteran who has experienced any form of MST cannot receive VA disability benefits solely because he or she experienced the event. To become eligible for benefits, veterans must prove they developed a diagnosable condition. These conditions are commonplace among veterans due to the lack of recognition and resources to cope with MST.
Other detrimental effects tied to MST include anxiety disorders, substance abuse, depression, and panic attacks. These conditions can be shown to stem from or be worsened by sexual trauma experienced while serving in the military.
In order to support a claim for these conditions, a veteran needs as much documentation related to MST he or she can acquire. Medical records, counseling reports, and documentation from healthcare professionals should be used as evidence. Beyond those forms of evidence, a veteran can also make use of journals, diaries, or simply a change in behavior (such as a performance review) as valuable evidence. If a veteran did not report an incident or does not have the above evidence, he or she may still prove his or her claim. Many veterans may need an attorney or a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) to assist them during the initial process or during the appeals process.
Reapplying for a MST Claim
Increasing societal awareness on the impact of MST led to several changes for veterans seeking aid from the VA. In December 2011, the VA began requiring special training for its claims evaluators on processing disability claims linked to MST. Veterans who submitted claims linked to MST before that date and were denied, have the option to reapply for VA Disability Compensation and other benefits. A reevaluation on an existing application should be requested at a veteran’s local VA regional office. We would recommend working with a Veteran Service Organization (VSO) and licensed personnel to file your claim.
Special Rules for Adjudicating PTSD Claims Based Upon MST
When veterans file PTSD claims, they are required to submit service records or other forms of documentation of the alleged incident. PTSD stemming from MST is not often included in a veteran’s service record. Veterans may opt to submit other forms of proof that the stressful incident occurred.
Evidence may include:
- Police reports
- Documentation from rape crisis centers
- Mental health counseling records
- Reports from hospitals or clinics
- Pregnancy tests
- Tests for sexually transmitted diseases
- Statements from family members, roommates, members of the clergy or other service members
Evidence of changes in behavior after an alleged assault can also be proof. Transfer requests, reports of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse qualify as evidence of a stressful incident. Deterioration in work quality and unexplained economic or social problems could qualify as well.
The weight of MST takes a toll on all veterans. An experienced veteran advocacy lawyer can be a veteran’s best chance of securing VA benefits after MST. Centonzio Law can provide compassionate and determined representation for veterans seeking aid after suffering from MST. If you or a veteran you know has suffered from MST and had a claim denied by the VA, please fill out our initial questionnaire today and request a free consultation on your VA appeal.