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Bill Seeks to Change VA Benefits for Sexual Assault Victims

November 21, 2023

John M. Donnelly


By John M. Donnelly, CQ / November 20, 2023

To help more people who were physically or mentally traumatized by sexual assault or harassment while serving in uniform, two military veterans in Congress want to change the rules governing veterans’ disability benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 1 in 3 female veterans and 1 in 50 males were raped or harassed during their time in uniform. Many of those victims have dealt with the physical and psychological fallout for years afterward. Veterans can file disability claims to receive payments if they suffer ailments, including so-called military sexual trauma, that arose from their time in uniform.  

When it comes to sexual trauma, about half of the disability claims are filed with the VA one year or more after the servicemember was discharged. On average, veterans wait nearly a decade to file a claim in such cases, according to a previously unpublicized November VA information paper provided to Congress and reviewed by CQ Roll Call. 

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