85K Vets Treated for Sex Abuse in 2012

PTSD, depression among common long-term effects

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 20, 2013 7:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – An AP report reveals the stunning scope of the sexual assault crisis rocking the military: Last year, more than 85,000 veterans received treatment for sex abuse, while 4,000 applied for disability benefits; 40% of those treated were men. The cases run as far back as the Vietnam War, with the most common long-term effects being post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, the AP notes based on Department of Veterans Affairs data. The VA says one in five women and one in 100 men screen positive for "military sexual trauma," defined by the VA as "any sexual activity where you are involved against your will," ranging from sexual harassment to rape.

When it comes to getting treatment, "a veteran can simply walk through the door, say they've had this experience, and we will get them hooked up with care. There's no documentation required," says a member of the military sexual trauma team. But those seeking disability compensation face hurdles: Vets must be diagnosed with PTSD or a similar problem, submit proof of the assault or harassment, and have a VA examiner confirm a link to their health condition. "Ninety percent of 26,000 cases last year weren't even reported," says an activist. "So where is that evidence supposed to come from?" Records show about half of vets seeking such compensation last year had their claim approved.

In this July 18, 2012 file photo, Ruth Moore, who was raped twice while serving in the Navy, testifies before the Veterans Affairs subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.
In this July 18, 2012 file photo, Ruth Moore, who was raped twice while serving in the Navy, testifies before the Veterans Affairs subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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