The bad news is that these new rules will not apply to veterans (mostly women) whose PTSD is a result of have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
I’ve been trying to figure out why this is. Maybe it has something to do with how the military defines the situation…
Here’s how the dictionary and I define it:
"enemy: a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something." Um, like a rapist.
"wound:an injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow, or other impact." “Other impact” would definitely cover it.
Well, maybe the military is a little squirrely about defining one’s fellow-soldiers as “enemies.” Okay. Then let’s consider it “friendly fire.” You know, like when a soldier mistakes a fellow-soldier for the enemy and accidentally kills or wounds them?
Surely these rapists must be mistaking their victims for some kind of enemy…? They couldn’t possibly be assaulting them if they understood them to be fellow-soldiers upon whom their lives depend. Could they?
Why on earth wouldn’t the military want to recognize and treat the PTSD caused by MST?
The dictionary was not much help. But the Service Women’s Action Network was a positive goldmine of clues.
Here… follow along:
- In 2009, the VHA treated 65,264 patients in connection with MST.
- The Veterans Administration (VA ) spends approximately $10,880 on healthcare costs per military sexual assault survivor. Adjusting for inflation, this means that in 2009 alone, the VA spent almost $820 million dollars on sexual assault‐related healthcare expenditures.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) estimates that legal expenses that result from military sexual assault cases average $40,000 per case. With 181 sexual assault‐related courts‐martial in 2008, DoD legal expenses total more than $7 million dollars.
Again, the SWAN website provided some clues:
- While sexual assaults are notoriously under‐reported, this problem is exacerbated in military settings. The Department of Defense (DoD) estimates that 80% of sexual assaults in the military go unreported.
- Prosecution rates for perpetrators of sexual violence are astoundingly low—while 40% of sex offenders are prosecuted in the civilian world, only 8% of perpetrators are prosecuted in the military.
Wow. So they probably got their military bean-counters to put their heads together with their VA psychologists to come up with some kind of horrendous screening procedure that would discourage women from reporting….
"Filing for disability compensation for MST is universally considered a traumatic, agonizing, and cruel experience. Many survivors describe the process of re-writing one's personal narrative for a VA claim as just as traumatic as the original rape or harassment.
VBA claims officers nationwide have proven themselves entirely inept when dealing with MST claims. Claims are routinely rejected, even with sufficient evidence of a stressor and a corroborating diagnosis from a VA health provider. Many survivors' claims are rejected because of VBA's lack of knowledge about sexual violence...
Current VBA policy is forcing women and men with insufficient evidence of their assault and harassment to suffer in silence and shame, to numb their pain through use of substances, and to take or attempt to take their own lives."
Okay… somebody needs to do something about this. But who? Women in the service are in a tricky situation, and especially the ones who are survivors of MST. There are definitely allies in Congress, but since the assaults on women by US military personnel are at epidemic rates, it’s kind of undermining of morale to make a big deal of the fact that women who enlist will be fighting on two fronts, with their most dangerous enemy enabled and protected by the US military. How about national feminist leaders? You know, the progressive liberals…?
Well… you know, the war… not something the progressives want to support, so advocating for servicewomen… well… it’s complicated. You know. And it's not like we have a draft or anything. These young women chose to enlist...
Yeah. They "chose." Because maybe they want a college education. Maybe they want a job. Funny how many women of low income, how many women of color "choose" the military.
This is a WOMEN'S issue, and a class issue, and a race issue. It's also a lesbian issue, because studies show that, under Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell lesbians are specially targeted for sexual abuse, because of our vulnerability.
So, here’s my suggestion. That women who care contact your representatives in Washington.
You can just quote Anuradha Bhagwati: "The V.A.'s double standard when it comes to survivors of sexual trauma is shameful. We've got nothing to celebrate until all sources of P.T.S.D. are considered equal."
Yeah. What she said.