85,000 Vets Treated for Sexual Abuse Injuries and Trauma in 2012
Another startling fact has surfaced that demonstrates the U.S military’s problem with sexual assaults: more than 85,000 veterans were treated last year for injuries or illness stemming from rape or sexual abuse.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also produced another key finding that dismisses the notion that sexual assault victims are almost always women. The VA reported that men made up nearly 40% of the patients treated in 2012 for conditions linked to “military sexual trauma.”
VA statistics revealed that 20% of women and 1% of men screen positive for military sexual trauma, which the agency defines as “any sexual activity where you are involved against your will.”
Those struggling to deal with what happened to them (rape, groping, sexual harassment) often suffer from health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Of the 85,000 vets treated for such trauma, 4,000 filed for disability benefits. In 2012, about two-thirds of those filing were women and a third were men. However, being approved for such benefits is no easy task, with the approval rate currently standing at 50%. A task force that investigated the claims process discovered that 25% of 400 claims reviewed were denied prior to a full presentation of the evidence.
“Right now, the burden of proof is stacked against sexual trauma survivors,” Anu Bhagwati, executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network, told the Associated Press. “Ninety percent of 26,000 cases last year weren’t even reported. So where is that evidence supposed to come from?”
The data released by the VA illustrates the cost—both emotional and financial—that continues to build as a result of sexual abuse committed during every U.S. war, dating back to Vietnam and, to some degree, even World War II.
-Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Thousands Treated for Sexual Abuse-Related Injuries in Military (by Kevin Freking, Associated Press)
Sexual Violence Victims Say Military Justice System Is 'Broken' (by Quil Lawrence and Marisa Penaloza, National Public Radio)
Chief of Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention Unit Charged with Sexual Assault (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
Air Force General who Overturned Sexual Assault Conviction Says Accused was Too Good a Husband and Father to be Guilty (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Long Waits for Troubled Vets Have Disastrous Effects (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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