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What is Military Sexual Trauma/MST?
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated sexual harassment that occurred while the Veteran was in the military. It includes any sexual activity in which one is involved against one’s will, may have been unable to consent, or may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Additionally, MST also includes unwanted sexual touching or grabbing; threatening, and or unwelcome sexual advances, among others.
Who experiences MST?
Both women and men can experience MST during their service. All Veterans that seek care at the VA are asked about MST, because this type of trauma can affect the Veteran’s physical and mental health, even many years later. National data from this program reveal that about 1 in 4 women and 1 on 100 men respond “yes,” that they experienced MST, when screened by their VA provider.
Where can I seek help?
The VA has free services to help Veterans to recover from MST. The Veteran does not need to have a VA disability to receive these services and may be able to receiver services even if they are not eligible for other VA care.
Can I receive disability compensation for conditions related to MST?
Yes. Although compensation for the traumatic event itself will not be granted, disability compensation for conditions that result from the MST, including mental health, is available.
What evidence can support a disability claim for conditions related to MST?
You do not need to have reported the incident(s) when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred. The evidentiary requirements and looks for “markers” that provide some indication that the traumatic event happened, include but are not limited to the following:
- Records from law enforcement authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals, or physicians
- Pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases
- Statements from family members, roommates, fellow Veterans, clergy members, or counselors
- Request for transfer to another military duty assignment
- Deterioration in work performance
- Substance Abuse
- Episodes of Depression, panic attacks, or anxiety without an identifiable cause
- Unexplained economic or social behavioral changes
- Sexual dysfunction
Can previously denied claims based on MST, be re-evaluated?
Yes. Increase awareness on PST issues has resulted in new guidelines at the VA. If your claim was submitted before December 2011 and was denied, you can request a re-evaluation from your local VA regional office.
If you have any questions regarding your MST claim, or any other VA pending claim, contact Tabak Law for a risk free consultation with an accredited VA Attorney. We know that it is not always easy to get to an attorney, so we offer home and hospital visits for your convenience. Our attorney visits Veterans through the Greater Milwaukee are to answer any questions regarding your claim. You may also contact us by calling 414-351-4400 or by contacting us online.