As detailed in previous blogs, Military Sexual Trauma (“MST”)-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) is an under-addressed issue affecting 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men. It is defined 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.” Those who have experienced MST often suffer from depression, anxiety, drug addiction, and other debilitating side effects.
Thankfully, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (“VA”) has made both medical and monetary support, in the form of disability benefits, available to MST survivors.
My Office Helps MST Survivors to Overcome VA Denials and Win the Disability Benefits They Deserve
Although it’s not as easy as it should be, getting disability benefits for MST-related PTSD is absolutely possible and worthwhile, particularly with the help of an experienced veterans' law attorney. I encourage all MST survivors to apply as soon as possible. If you are denied or receive an unacceptable rating decision, send me a note or give me a call at (877) 629-1712. I have extensive experience helping MST survivors to overcome VA bias and win the benefits they deserve, and I promise to be both a zealous advocate and a compassionate ear that you can trust.
The VA Provides a Wide Variety of Medical Benefits to MST Survivors
When you are healing from MST, it is important to find the treatment option that works for you.
All VA Medical Centers have a MST Coordinator who connects MST survivors with treatment options. Frequently, survivors will be placed in outpatient therapy. However, for many, outpatient treatment, which can often involve long drives to and from the nearest VA treatment center, isn’t enough.
Around 2000, a new treatment option became available for those who don’t find enough support in the outpatient system: residential treatment programs.
Bay Pines, Florida Facility Provides Intensive Residential Treatment to Veteran MST Survivors
According to a TPR report, Bay Pines is one facility which has seen tremendous success with the residential model. As an MST-specific program, they can focus on the unique severity of the trauma facing MST survivors.
Patients at Bay Pines complete individual therapy sessions multiple times a week and are provided daily group therapy. They also engage in exposure therapy, a practice which encourages the patient to revisit her or his traumatic experience repeatedly and ultimately minimizes the strong negative emotions associated with the memory. Generally, patients stay at Bay Pines for 4-8 weeks.
Bay Pines Offers Therapy in a Co Ed Setting, Reducing the Anxiety of Returning to Life After Treatment
Bay Pines is intentionally set up as a co-ed treatment facility. They believe that this structure helps patients to re-enter society more easily after completing therapy.
Surveys Show that Treatment at Bay Pines Reduces PTSD and Depression
The numbers have confirmed Bay Pines’ success; surveys of the programs’ graduates indicate that 90% experience a “significant drop in their PTSD and depression symptoms.”
It is Never Too Late to Begin Treatment
Many MST survivors wait decades to get treatment – in fact, the average age of patients at Bay Pines is 45 for men and 50 for women. Therefore, please know that, whenever you are ready, help is available.
Getting the Help You Need
If you are interested in learning more about the Bay Pines residential-treatment center, follow this link. If you decide residential treatment is for you, the first step is to contact the MST Coordinator at your local VA health-care facility. From there, she or he can help you evaluate your eligibility and identify all of your options.
If you are an MST survivor and you have yet to apply for benefits, we encourage you to contact the MST Coordinator at your regional office to get started. A list of coordinators can be found here. And, remember, if you are denied or receive an unacceptable rating decision for any reason, give me a call at (877) 629-1712. With decades of combined experience, we at the Law Offices of Attorney Sean Kendall are confident we can win you the benefits you deserve.