This blog is the second in a three-part series on the common myths surrounding Military Sexual Trauma (“MST”). Please see Part 1 for a discussion of what is required to show MST, and Part 3 for a discussion of MST and disability benefits. For general information on MST, please see our Introduction to MST.
1 in 100 Men Report MST While Serving
It is a common misconception that MST, which the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (“VA”) defines as “psychological trauma resulting 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,” mostly affects women. It’s easy to believe. After all, a staggering 1 in 4 women seen for VA healthcare report a history of MST, while only 1 in 100 men report the same. However, the statistics do not tell the full story.
The Facts About MST and Male Veterans
As of 2015, there were 1,763,228 men in the military, making up 83.2% of the total force. Thus, even if “only” 1 in 100 men have experienced MST, the total is still a startling number. In fact, in 2012 alone, 14,000 men reported experiencing sexual assault in the military, an average of 38 men every single day.
Yet, those alarming statistics only show a fraction of the MST actually perpetrated. While some men do report MST while in service, most stay silent. Men may be dissuaded from reporting by a number of factors, including traditional gender roles, societal norms that downplay the reality of male victims of sexual assault, and a lack of resources available for male MST survivors within and beyond the military. Most of my clients fall into the silent majority for the simple reason that their cases are hard to prove and they need legal help. However, the VA often denies male MST claims even with in-service evidence. Any denial should be aggressively pursued regardless of the VA’s determination.
Despite Difficulties, Male MST Victims Often Get Benefits
Encouraging male MST survivors to come forward and get the help they need and the benefits they deserve is crucial because the resulting PTSD reduces quality of life and earning capacity. MST survivors experience a variety of long-term symptoms including depression and anxiety, which can lead to substance abuse, unemployment, homelessness, difficulties in interpersonal relationships, and suicide. Male MST survivors in particular experience increased symptomology, including feelings of shame and an increased likelihood of MST-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”).
If You Have an Appeal We Will Review Your Case for Free
As with all MST survivors, male survivors are entitled to free health care for MST-related mental and physical health issues and to disability benefits based on the PTSD that often arises from MST. Yet, while claiming disability benefits should be easy, it can often be extremely difficult. The baseline discrimination faced by male veterans making an MST-related disability claim and the lack of in-service evidence lead to many denials, both at VA Regional Offices and at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Having a team like ours that is experienced in MST, PTSD, and VA compensation is crucial to getting benefits you deserve. Contact us today at 877-629-1712 to see if we can help you.