Publish Date: 2014-09-29 - Sep 29,2014 – Udall, Stabenow, Colleagues Urge President to Help Veterans Suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as Result of Military Sexual Violence

U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) and several of their colleagues urged the president to reconsider the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision to not issue rules to help survivors of military sexual violence receive medical care and disability compensation for mental health conditions. Udall, Stabenow and their colleagues said without new rules, survivors of military sexual violence will continue to see their claims — including those related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — disproportionately denied.

“The psychological effects of sexual violence persist long after a servicemember has left active duty, and many cases of sexual assault do not produce the same evidence or documentation as other traumatic events experienced by military personnel. We believe current VA standards regarding evidence required to prove an occurrence of military sexual trauma fail to sufficiently take these basic facts into account when determining eligibility for benefits and services for survivors of military sexual trauma,” the senators wrote. “Furthermore, recent investigations and reports have substantiated concerns that VA adjudicators are not accurately and consistently applying VA regulations regarding the evidence required for a finding of military sexual trauma. As a result, adjudicators are disproportionately denying PTSD claims related to military sexual trauma.”

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) co-signed the letter.

The senators’ letter follows the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision in July 2014 to reject Service Women’s Action Network and Vietnam Veterans of America’s joint petition asking the agency to make it easier for veterans to prove an occurrence of military sexual trauma. The two organizations filed their request in June 2013 after reports surfaced that the VA was disproportionately denying claims related to military sexual trauma. Those denials were preventing veterans from receiving medical care to treat the lasting effects of military sexual trauma, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Udall has worked tirelessly in Congress and with Colorado’s military community to take decisive action against sexual assaults committed by and against military personnel. Udall fought to include several provisions to combat military sexual violence and improve care for survivors in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which became law in December.

To read the full letter, click HERE or scroll below:

President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest Washington, District of Columbia 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to draw your attention to the disparity between the success rates of disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arising from military sexual trauma and claims for PTSD caused by other stressors. In particular, we urge your administration to reconsider the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) recent denial of a petition to promulgate a rule governing disability compensation for mental health conditions incurred as a result of military sexual trauma.

This Congress, we’ve seen a committed bipartisan effort to end sexual violence in