The lawsuit alleges that the VA makes military sexual trauma survivors who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) go through more procedural hurdles than other veterans to receive disability benefits. For example, a veteran suffering from PTSD from combat must submit only a statement to receive benefits, while veterans who are MST survivors must submit additional evidence like court documents and prove that their PTSD was caused by their military service. Further, disability claims for MST survivors are approved at a 16 to 30 percent lower rate than other veterans. The lawsuit specifically alleges gender discrimination, against both male and female MST survivors, especially noting that only 37 percent of the disability claims of male MST survivors are granted.
"The VA knows the current process makes veterans who've been harmed by military sexual harassment and assault jump through more hoops than other PTSD claimants to apply for and receive PTSD disability benefits," said Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director of SWAN and former Marine Corps captain. "But they refuse to change their regulations. The result of this discrimination is that survivors of military sexual harassment and assault are denied life-saving benefits and critical income to support themselves and their families."
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .