Target: Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki
Goal: Help disabled victims of military sexual trauma receive compensation by relaxing documentation requirements.
Currently, a veteran who seeks compensation for a disability caused by sexual trauma during his or her service must, in addition to being diagnosed with a health issue and examined by a VA examiner, submit proof that they were assaulted. So far the Department of Veterans Affairs has been reluctant to relax this final requirement, despite the fact that it makes many sexual abuse victims who were unable to report being assaulted ineligible for desperately needed disability compensation. Reforming the VA’s policy so that a veteran’s word may serve as proof of assault, will allow more disabled veterans to receive the help they need.
Last year, there were an estimated 26,000 cases of military sexual trauma (MST), of which only ten percent were reported. Often, this was because personnel felt uncomfortable reporting such assaults, or even because those who were in the position to file reports of MST were in fact guilty of abuse themselves. Without such documentation, it is extremely difficult for veterans to receive disability compensation, leading to the VA department rejecting over half of the applications for MST-related disability compensation that they received last year.
Sign this petition to urge the current Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, to relax his department’s policy regarding proof of sexual abuse. Putting the burden of proof on the victims of sexual abuse and distrusting their statements can only injure them and the integrity of the United States Military.
Dear Secretary Eric K. Shinseki,
Your department’s current policy of denying disability compensation to victims of MST who cannot prove that they were abused is extremely damaging to those affected. Given the current epidemic of sexual abuse within the military, it seems logical to attempt to help as many of those suffering on account of MST as possible. Unfortunately, this will be impossible as long as veteran victims of MST are required to submit proof that they have been assaulted, particularly considering how few cases of MST, from which a victim can draw evidence, are reported.
While we do appreciate your recognition of those veterans’ suffering, and your department’s assistance in treating them, we must urge you to take the final step and allow a veteran’s word to serve as proof of MST for the purposes of receiving disability compensation.
[Your Name Here]
Image courtesy of the United States Department for Veterans Affairs