DAV supports S. 833, the Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2017, in accordance with DAV Resolution No. 042, which calls for improvement to the process for determining service connection for conditions related to military sexual trauma (MST). Enacting this legislation would expand MST counseling and treatment and ease some of the evidentiary requirements for veterans filing claims for service-connection for conditions related to the after-effects of a MST.
Sexual trauma during military service is ever more recognized as a hazard of service for one percent of men and 20 percent of women who have served. It often results in mental health conditions for veterans and the need for complex care and specialized treatment from VA. An absence of documentation of MST in the personnel or military unit records of individuals often prevents or obstructs adjudication of claims for disabilities of veterans suffering the devastating after-effects of sexual trauma associated with military service. Accordingly, based on an internal survey, VA verified that grant rates for post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from MST were 17 to 30 percent below grant rates for PTSD resulting from other causes.
S. 833 would relax the standard of proof for MST-related claims using mental health professionals to verify a mental health diagnosis and opine about the likelihood of MST occurring given the veteran’s circumstances and conditions. Furthermore, the bill would require VA to resolve every reasonable doubt in favor of the veteran with the reasons for granting or denying service-connection recorded in full.
Please use the prepared email to urge your Senators to cosponsor and support for final passage, S. 833, the Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2017.
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