When Rape Isn't like Combat: The Disparity between Benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Combat Veterans and Benefits for Victims of Military Sexual Assault

By Kappelman, Ben | Suffolk University Law Review, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

When Rape Isn't like Combat: The Disparity between Benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Combat Veterans and Benefits for Victims of Military Sexual Assault


Kappelman, Ben, Suffolk University Law Review


"It's very disconcerting to have somebody who is supposed to save your life, who has your back, turn on you and do something like that.... You don't want to believe it's real. You don't want to have to deal with it. The family doesn't want to deal with it. Society doesn't want to deal with it." (1)

I. INTRODUCTION

In the late 1990s, a disabled American veteran sought compensation. (2) His disability was physical, but his injury was not suffered on the battlefield. (3) His claim was denied. (4) The veteran, Frank L. Gallegos Jr., had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by military sexual assault (MSA). (5) Gallegos' medical doctor corroborated his account and wrote, "[t]he symptoms [Gallegos] gives are quite consistent with a highly traumatized experience of sexual rape to a man." (6) Nevertheless, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims upheld the decision that Gallegos had not established a sufficient connection between his in-service rape and his PTSD. (7) Absent that connection, Gallegos could not receive benefits in the form of psychological care and a disability pension from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). (8)

The VA serves America's veterans and their families "in ensuring that they receive the care, support, and recognition they have earned in service to this nation." (9) Navigating the VA application process to obtain such care, support, and recognition presents unique challenges for veterans with mental illness, particularly those with PTSD. (10) One cause of PTSD is sexual assault, which is surprisingly pervasive in the United States armed forces. (11) In (2008), 3,018 sexual assaults involving United States armed forces service members were officially reported to unit commanders. (12)

When veterans develop PTSD caused by a sexual assault as a result of their military service, they are entitled to disability compensation. (13) The current regulatory framework imposes a higher evidentiary burden on those veterans seeking compensation for PTSD because of sexual assault than on those seeking compensation for PTSD caused by exposure to combat. (14) This higher burden, one that generally requires corroboration from outside sources, instead of the veteran's lay testimony alone, prevents victims with PTSD claims from receiving compensation. (15)

This Note begins by describing the process for seeking benefits as a disabled veteran in the United States. (16) It next examines how PTSD due to sexual assault is subject to a higher level of scrutiny in the benefit application process. (17) The Note then considers the prevalence of MSA in the armed forces and the veracity of victims' claims. (18) It goes on to describe the clinical connection between MSA and PTSD. (19) Lastly, it catalogs the obstacles to successful disability claims that the veterans disability application process presents. (20)

This Note then analyzes the application process and suggests areas for improvement. (21) Continued vigilance is necessary to abandon the outmoded stereotypes of sexual assault and this Note commends the Department of Defense (DOD) for taking important steps to that end. (22) Unifying the veterans' disability application process would provide fair and equal treatment of PTSD claims regardless of cause. (23) The fact-finding process within the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) should be reformed to ensure the Board does not delegate its fact-finding responsibilities to the medical professionals it turns to for evidence. (24) Finally, the contemporaneous proof requirement bars PTSD claims with an otherwise sound clinical basis--a profile that fits many claims based on MSA--and federal regulations should acknowledge this fact. (25)

II. HISTORY

A. Seeking Compensation as a Disabled Veteran in America

As part of its mission, the VA provides compensation to any veteran who is at least 10% disabled as a result of military service. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

When Rape Isn't like Combat: The Disparity between Benefits for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Combat Veterans and Benefits for Victims of Military Sexual Assault
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.