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135,000 Military Sexual Trauma Claims

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By The Maritime Executive 02-02-2020 02:49:00

Last December, I organized a letter sent by locally elected officials to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. We wanted to know how many military sexual trauma claims had been filed by DC veterans with the VA. Three hundred and fourteen claims were filed by DC veterans in the past 10 years, and more than 135,000 MST claims were filed nationwide during the same period.

I'm sharing the VA information with Maritime Executive readers because many of you are veterans.  You served in the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the on-going Global War on Terror.

The VA data is divided by year, service, and conflict. 1,500 of these MST claims were filed by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, and another 32,000 were filed by U.S. Navy sailors. 

Sixty-eight claims date back to World War II. That war ended almost seventy-five years ago, but only now are ninety-year-old veterans seeking help from the federal government.

In 2014, I testified twice about military sexual trauma before a Congressionally mandated panel. I did so as a former Coast Guard officer and Maritime Administration Chief Counsel responsible for providing legal guidance to one of the five federal service schools. That year, 15,000 military sexual trauma claims were filed with the VA. An additional 21,000 claims were filed four years later. 

As an elected official, I will ask the VA to divide the DC and nationwide data by race and gender, and to explain why 50 percent of the DC veteran MST claims were denied. DC veterans were hurt while serving on active duty, and it’s my job as an elected official to ensure that veterans get the services they need to heal the physical and psychological wounds. It’s my hope that other locally elected officials with military backgrounds make the same demands.

K. Denise Rucker Krepp is a locally elected official, former Maritime Administration Chief Counsel and former Coast Guard officer.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.