Military sexual trauma (MST) refers to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that happens to a veteran during service. MST can happen to men and women, and the VA acknowledges that it is a major problem. Numerous disorders can stem from MST, and treatment is often necessary to cope with them. The VA offers support for those who have experienced MST. Sometimes, however, the veteran must fight for these benefits. The New Orleans VA benefits attorneys at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC are here to help you apply for MST benefits or appeal rejected claims.
There are few restrictions on who can qualify for MST benefits. They are available regardless of your length of service or income. The trauma can occur on or off a military base, and while the veteran was on or off duty. Many victims of sexual assault do not report what happened until much later. However, they can qualify for MST benefits even if they don’t report the incident when it occurred.
Although there is no time limit to apply for MST benefits, you do have to submit evidence with your application. A New Orleans veterans disability benefits attorney can help with this process. Note that these benefits are intended to cover the physical and mental health conditions that result from the traumatic event. Along those lines, the VA provides free, confidential, and private counseling and treatment to veterans. The available services include:
- Treatment and support at VA medical centers, as well as providers who are knowledgeable about treating the aftereffects of MST
- At many VA locations, specialized outpatient mental health services that are focused on sexual trauma
- Counseling with specially trained professionals who can treat conditions related to sexual trauma
- Specialized MST treatment in a residential (live-in) or inpatient setting for veterans who need more intensive care
- Treatment and support for health conditions linked to MST such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance use problems
This program is distinct from the VA’s disability benefits programs. It is intended to treat the mental and physical issues that often occur as a result of MST. That means you may be able to qualify for monthly disability benefits if you suffered certain conditions. An experienced New Orleans veterans disability benefits attorney can discuss the best options for your specific situation.
Your application for MST benefits will need to include documentation. Although you don’t need direct evidence, applicants face the possibility of being denied. The following is the type of evidence the VA may consider:
- Records from law enforcement authorities, such as police reports
- Records from rape crisis centers, mental health counseling centers, hospitals, and physicians
- Pregnancy tests
- Tests for sexually transmitted diseases
- Supporting statements from people who know you, like family members, roommates, fellow service members, clergy members, and counselors
- Substance or drug abuse
- Deterioration in work performance
- Depression, panic attacks, and anxiety attacks
- Unexplained economic or social behavioral changes
- Relationship problems, such as divorce
- Sexual dysfunction
Due to relaxed evidentiary rules, the VA now looks for “markers” of sexual trauma. These are signs or clues that the event in question happened. There are several different ways to apply, and you can even apply online. You should nonetheless talk to a New Orleans veterans disability benefits attorney, especially if a previous claim was denied.
Help for Victims of Military Sexual Trauma
With increasing awareness of sexual assault and violence, there are more VA services available to help victims than ever before. Our VA benefits law firm in New Orleans can assist you with applying or answer any questions you have. We understand the difficulty of coping with sexual trauma, and that’s why we’re dedicated to helping our veteran clients. Give us a call today. We can point you in the right direction to get the help you need.