More Veterans who submit compensation claims based on sexual assaults during their military service are receiving benefits. VBA grant rates for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to sexual trauma increased by approximately 22 percentage points since 2015.
This year, the grant rate for conditions related to military sexual trauma (MST) is at 72%, up from 50% in 2015 and 68% in 2020. As of April 30, 88,875 Veterans were service-connected for MST-related PTSD, with 67% of those rated 70% or higher. The dramatic increase in the grant rate is due to a concerted VA effort.
VA is committed to providing the benefits Veterans have earned and deserve in an accurate and compassionate manner. This is especially true for Veterans who have experienced MST because so many sexual assaults are not reported when they happen. Processing claims for PTSD related to sexual trauma is particularly challenging because of the personal and sensitive nature of the MST stressors, and it is often difficult for the Veteran to report or document the event when it occurs. As a result, evidence is often unavailable.
“We’re treating military sexual trauma claims with a special emphasis,” said acting Under Secretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy. “We are allowing only experienced, highly trained Veteran Service Representatives and Rating Veterans Service Representatives to process these claims, then we are giving them enhanced training and performing special focused quality reviews.”
In May, VA centralized its MST-related rating claims to a limited number of regional offices to improve benefits delivery to Veterans who file MST-related claims. Centralization enhances efficiency, accuracy and timeliness by placing these cases in the hands of well-trained, experienced employees.
An MST Remote Operations Center will open at the New York Regional Office in the first quarter of FY 2022, which will allow VA to streamline operations even more and ensure tighter control and accountability for MST claim decisions.