Military Sexual Trauma Claims To Be Re-evaluated

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Veterans who have been denied disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to military sexual trauma (MST) are now able to have those cases re-examined by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

Since 2011, VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey has been working to correct the disparity in claims approval ratings for PTSD related to combat versus PTSD stemming from MST. From 2008 to 2010, the approval rate for PTSD claims related to MST was only about one third. Today, roughly 55 percent of those claims are granted, while there is a similar 60-percent grant rate for all PTSD claims.

This is due in part to better training for claims specialists, but it also reflects a change in the mandated burden of proof required for approval.

In April, the VBA mailed letters to some 2,500 veterans whose claims for MST-related PTSD were denied. The letter explained to veterans that they can request that their case be reopened to add evidence that may have been previously overlooked.

National Service Director Jim Marszalek said his staff also sent letters in November to veterans whose claims were handled by DAV, to offer specific guidance on the re-evaluation process and the supporting evidence that can be considered. Guidance was also given to National Service Officers on the changes.

“We wanted to be sure the veterans we represent knew exactly what steps to take and what evidence may be used to re-evaluate their claim,” said Marszalek. “They need a knowledgeable, direct point of contact. The last thing these veterans need is to discuss their MST claim with a dozen people before finding the one who can help.”

The VA has also relaxed the evidentiary requirements necessary to validate a claim. Claims-rating specialists now look for “markers” that indicate a specified traumatic event. These can include:

  • Records from law enforcement authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals or physicians
  • Relationship issues, such as divorce
  • Pregnancy tests or tests for sexually transmitted diseases
  • Statements from family members, roommates, fellow service members, clergy members or counselors
  • Requests 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

“Veterans who did not receive the VA letter can still request to have their claim reviewed, if it was previously denied,” said Deputy National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “Any additional supporting evidence, such as statements from family or fellow service members, or markers not previously identified, can be very valuable in the re-evaluation process.”

“MST can have devastating consequences on an individual’s ability to care for themselves and their families,” said Marc Burgess, National Adjutant. “With our utmost sensitivity, we’re going to fight to ensure justice and validation for those who are suffering from PTSD as a result of MST.”
For more information, or to request that your case be reopened, contact your NSO or locate the nearest DAV office at
  • Linda T.

    Please help us find and release the name of the military doctor convicted of raping soldiers at Fort Hood in the 1980s. I’m sure many of his victims would like to know he was convicted and this will also help them support their claims

  • Jobelle Collie

    I had my c&p exam today, 4/22/14 from a rape that happened 33 YEARS ago. It went as I expected it to go, denied, there is no proof in my military records. Justice delayed is Justice denied.

    • ThatBKChick

      Please file your request for legal representation to the National Veteran Law Service Program at They will take your claim along with others like myself. There are clear “markers” in your records as stated above, that the V.A. continues to deny. They are fighting for all of us. I hope this helps Jobelle. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!–Vet Sister Eve

  • N Smith

    in 2008 i file for ptsd cause by mst in 1966 i have been trying to report it i had all the paper work that is needed i was turn down now with the same info i put it back in dec 2014 have not heard from them since what is a man to do at this point ?

    • DAV

      If you filed your claim with the help of a veterans service organization, you should directly contact the office that assisted you as they will have direct access to your files for you. If you did not, we encourage you to reach out to the closest DAV National Service Office, which you can find at Every situation is so unique, you deserve individualized attention.

  • Kanisha G.

    I been fighting for compensation for 13yrs from a rape. I keep getting denied cause they want more proof. I guess my 13 yr old daughter with the dna test isnt enough proof. I suppose she is a figment of my imagination. Everyday i must look in the face of my attacker.