For both men and women, service in the armed forces inherently involves the risk of injury or illness. From high intensity training to the rigors of daily physical exertion and combat, the military wears on the body, regardless of gender. However, there are disabilities unique to women and others more likely to affect women than men.
Most of the disabilities unique to women involve diseases rather than injuries. You must remember that the VA will compensate any Veteran for diseases incurred in service or within a reasonable time period after.
Alternatively, in some cases, the VA considers some conditions presumptive, meaning the disease will be service connected if the underlying service qualifies (such as service in a certain location, like Camp Lejeune or Vietnam).
The injuries and diseases totally unique to female military members involve organs only found in the female body. Examples of these issues include endometriosis, ovarian or cervical cancer, and residuals of complications from pregnancy.
Some diseases are more common in females than males, like breast cancer, which may develop while a woman is in service. If breast cancer develops in service, a Veteran may claim it on a direct basis by showing that the in-service cancer continued after separation.
A Veteran with breast cancer may also show that their in-service position caused their breast cancer, such as work near radiation on a submarine.
Aside from those disabilities only found in women, they may also be under an increased risk of developing some common military-related problems.
Sadly, one of the most common sources of disability for women after service is military sexual trauma, which can include sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, unwanted sexual contact, and rape.
Some sources say that one in four female members of the armed forces has endured some form of military sexual trauma.
While men also suffer from military sexual trauma, the frequency for male military members is reported as 1/100. While still far too frequent for men, this type of trauma affects a much higher percentage of female servicemembers.
As a result of their experiences with military sexual trauma, many women separate from service with mental health issues, most commonly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Despite the frequency of military sexual trauma resulting in mental health problems for women in the armed services, it remains one of the most difficult issues to pursue for benefits through the VA.
Many Veterans do not realize the toll their traumatic experience has taken until many years after separation, making it difficult to gather evidence to support a claim. Sometimes Veterans struggle to get an accurate diagnosis for their symptoms, which can make it difficult to know how to pursue their claim through the VA.
The VA can also be very pressuring, seeking more information than the Veteran can recall about the stressful in-service incident. This can sometimes lead a Veteran to submit inaccurate information based on pieced-together memories.
Beyond mental health issues related to military sexual trauma, women can also be more vulnerable to certain musculoskeletal injuries.
Studies have shown that women are twice as likely to suffer muscle and bone injuries than their male counterparts. While the studies did not definitively identify the cause of the injuries, speculation included the weight of the packs (same as the men, though representing a higher percentage of a woman’s body weight) and ill-fitting gear designed for men.
If you are a Veteran and you have been denied disability benefits or given a lower than expected rating, you have the right to appeal. The attorneys at Berry Law have experience helping female Veterans successfully appeal unfavorable VA decisions, and we understand how to submit an effective appeal for common VA disabilities for women.
Contact Berry Law today to get a free case evaluation for your appeal.
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