This report presents the first opportunity for veterans, policy-makers, and the public to examine in detail the experiences of MST survivors as they seek compensation from VA. It is based on data provided by VA in settlement of two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. The lawsuits were brought by the Service Women's Action Network, ACLU Women's Rights Project, and the ACLU of Connecticut, with the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School serving as lead counsel. As a result of these settlements, VA handed over never-before-released data on mental health disability benefit claims filed by veterans suffering from the aftermath of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
These data offer a close look at the enduring health consequences and bureaucratic battles that survivors of in-service3 sexual trauma face as they transition back to civilian life. Notably, the data reveal that VA has granted disability claims for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by in-service sexual trauma at significantly lower rates than it has granted claims for PTSD arising from other causes. Moreover, the data also reveal dramatic variation among VA regional offices in the treatment of MST-related mental health claims and disparate treatment by gender.