Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and Service Connecting PTSD

PTSD is one of the most common disabilities our Veterans experience. It can be debilitating and cause huge changes in a Veteran’s life. Unfortunately, a common PTSD trigger some Veterans experience during service is Military Sexual Trauma (MST). However, Veterans do have the right to pursue VA disability benefits for any disability that resulted from MST, including PTSD.

What is Military Sexual Trauma?

The law defines military sexual trauma as “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty active duty for training, or inactive duty training.”

It is important to remember that military sexual trauma can happen to both men and women. Often, because of stigma or embarrassment or a variety of other valid reasons, MST does not get reported. But—like all cases of PTSD—if you are experiencing PTSD as a result of your military service, the VA is required to verify your stressor with something outside of your own testimony.

How Do I Prove It Happened if I Didn’t Report It?

The law recognizes that MST often goes unreported by the victim. Because of that, the VA allows evidence from other sources in a Veteran’s service record that may corroborate the stressful incident. The VA regulations list several examples that may be used to corroborate MST as a stressor for PTSD.

  • 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 service members, or clergy
  • Evidence of behavior changes following the claimed assault including:
    • a request for a transfer to another military duty assignment
    • deterioration in work performance
    • substance abuse
    • episodes of depression
    • panic attacks
    • anxiety without an identifiable cause; or unexplained economic or social behavior changes

This is not the only evidence a Veteran can submit to corroborate his or her stressor. The VA regulations also prohibit the VA from denying a post-traumatic stress disorder claim based on MST without first advising the Veteran that evidence from sources other than the Veteran’s service records or evidence of a behavior change may allow the VA to corroborate the stressor.

Contact America’s Veterans Law Firm

At Berry Law, we are committed to helping Veterans in their fight for disability compensation. Many Veterans who experienced sexual trauma in the military do not realize they can pursue VA compensation for any resulting disabilities, such as PTSD. However, many Veterans have a hard time proving their PTSD was caused by MST. But you don’t have to go to battle alone.

Enlist the help of the Veteran attorneys at Berry Law. With attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, we know what it takes to win a VA claim. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team.