Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

May-07-14

Veterans Groups File Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination Against Military Sexual Trauma Survivors

The Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) and Vietnam Veterans of America filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging that the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) discriminates against survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) in granting disability claims.

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."

An estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assaults in the military occurred in 2012, according to a report by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program of the Department of Defense, and reports of sexual assault jumped 50 percent last year

Legislators have been fighting to pass reforms of military procedures to hold perpetrators more accountable. In March, the Senate passed a limited military sexual assault reform bill that would eliminate the "good soldier defense" in trials, give accusers more power to choose whether their cases go through the military or the civilian system, allow victims to challenge their discharge from the military, increase the accountability of commanders, and extend the changes to service academies.

Media Resources: Vietnam Veterans of America 4/30/14; Service Women's Action Network 4/29/14; RH Reality Check 5/2/14; Associated Press 5/1/14; Feminist Newswire 3/11/14


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

12/16/2014 Federal Lawsuit Challenges the Wisconsin Law That's Putting Pregnant Women in Prison - A federal civil rights lawsuit is being filed on behalf of a Wisconsin woman who was jailed after allegedly using methamphetamines while 14 weeks pregnant. Tamara Loertscher, 30, was jailed after seeking prenatal care at a Mayo Clinic branch in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. . . .
 
12/16/2014 Personhood Groups Plan to Launch County and Municipal Measures to Restrict Abortion Access - A newly-created anti-abortion group has announced a new tactic meant to end abortion access nationwide. In the wake of major defeats for personhood ballot measures in Colorado and North Dakota's recent elections, anti-abortion extremist Gualberto Garcia Jones, who authored Colorado's failed Amendment 67, is now instructing groups to abandon statewide votes for personhood amendments. . . .
 
12/16/2014 Thousands Marched for Justice in Washington, DC in the Wake of Fatal Police Violence - On Saturday, December 13, the National Action Network (NAN), NAACP, and other civil rights organizations led the Justice For All March in Washington, DC. . . .