Dispelling the Myths of MST In VA Appeals
Physical Contact Is Not Required to Prove MST
This blog is one part of a three-part series on the common myths surrounding Military Sexual Trauma (“MST”). Please see Part 2 for a discussion of men and MST, and Part 3 (link to part 3) for a discussion of MST and disability benefits. For general information on MST, please see our Introduction to MST here.
DOD Defintion of MST Differs From VA's
Many people are under the mistaken impression that Military Sexual Trauma (“MST”) requires physical contact. This confusion is furthered by the fact that the Department of Defense (“DoD”) defines “Unwanted Sexual Contact” (“USC”) as “intentional sexual contact that was against a person’s will or occurred when the person did not or could not consent. The term describes completed and attempted oral, anal, and vaginal penetration with any body part or object, and the unwanted touching of genitalia and other sexually related areas of the body.” However, USC and MST are not the same thing, and MST absolutely does not require physical contact.
The True Definition of MST For VA Compensation Cases
The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) defines MST as “psychological trauma resulting from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment [emphasis added] which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.” Sexual harassment is defined as "repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical [emphasis added] contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.” The VA has stated that, in addition to physical sexual assault such as rape and unwanted touching, this definition encompasses a wide swath of nonphysical harassment, including but not limited to being threatened with negative consequences for refusing to participate in sexual behavior, express or implied promises of faster promotions in exchange for sexual behavior, offensive remarks about one’s body, and unwelcome or threatening sexual advances.
Get Help With Your VA MST Claim Today
If you feel you are a victim of MST and you suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression or something else, you may be eligible for disability benefits as well as free health care for all MST-related issues through the VA. While the process of obtaining MST-related benefits should be easy, it is often extremely challenging (see MST Blog ) and having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial. Regardless of where you are in the appeals process, I can help you to get the benefits you deserve. If your case has been denied, please contact me for a free consultation.
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