According to a recent study conducted by the Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Service Clinic, sexual assault victims in the military receive far fewer disability benefits than other survivors of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The New Haven Register reported that the study, which took three years to complete, found that the grant rate for PTSD claims tied to military sexual trauma has fallen behind other claims of of PTSD by between 16.5 percent and 29.6 percent every year. Because many more of the complainants of sexual trauma are women, this lower rate also impacts women more severely, according to the report. Subsequently, the overall grant rate for women’s PTSD claims is nearly 10 percent less than that of men in the military.
The Clinic has partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Connecticut, the Service Women’s Action Network, and the national ACLU in asking that the Department of Veterans Affairs change its ways so that sexual assault victims have an equal chance as other PTSD complainants of receiving benefits.
The system’s flaws are further complicated when analyzing disparities in grant rates for PTSD from place to place. In St. Paul, for instance, only 25.8 percent of claims were granted, while 48.1 percent of the claims received by the regional office in Togus, ME, were granted.
Kathryn Mammel, a law student who worked on the report, said that legislative action may be necessary in order to achieve the desired changes.