VA Disability Claim for Military Sexual Trauma
I served from 1993-2001 in the Army Reserves. While I was in AIT. I was sexually assaulted by a Sgt. - basically raped at knife point and threatened if I ever told anyone I would be dishonorably discharged because I was drinking under age. So I was brutally raped and sodomized.
. . .
I tried to forget everything, but I just could not. I started drinking like a fish, and turned totally different. Then I thank God that my mind started to take it all and submerge it.
I developed PTSD, severe anxiety attacks, no sleep, afraid to leave my house. I was not able to maintain a job. Now I have night terrors, PTSD, screaming fits, and the nightmares are so vivid. I relive this every night.
SO, I finally came forward to the VA and made a claim over the phone. That somehow disappeared. I called again and was mailed paperwork. I hand delivered the paperwork start of the claim to Newington, VA . They dated and stamped it. They lost that, too.
I was about to lose all hope and then someone gave me the name of the American Legion rep to take over the case. He is in charge now, and told me they do not have the earlier cases - they were closed. Now they need more information.
I did not go to the psychiatrist, but I will be going asap. I need to get this done and follow through. I want the nightmares over.
Please help me - all I get now are medications. I am getting help from Senator Blumenthal. I wrote to the President. I am now being seen for MST (Military Sexual Trauma) treatment only. I need the full care. I am going to fill out the information again. Make copies and give to my lawyer. I am part of American Legion. Someone told me it is best to use DAV.
I went from a bright person to an alcoholic, pill popper etc. I was honorably discharged. I am one day shy of being able to get the full benefits.
Does anyone know how long it takes to go through this process of MST, PTSD, Panic attacks, severe sleep apnea? I also hurt my knee pretty bad as well, and my back got messed up. These are all being considered for my claims for disability. I am not sure how that goes. I have a 6 year old son. Does anyone know how the disability rating is done? How long does these take to go through?
I am scared to death I might hurt my son during my night terrors. He hears me scream, but I don't wake up until a few minutes. I almost hit him once. He does not need to see this, but he also knows mommy is getting better. My son’s father is someone I have known since I was 13. Thank God, otherwise he would have left me a long time ago.
I am using my VRAP to go to school to keep me occupied and I am doing well. SO that is the plus, and my son is my biggest hope.
As far as bills, they are piling up quick. I know the feeling. I have to pay my car insurance. I live in CT and have oil heat. I have exhausted all options. So I will do what I can and I’m waiting on the Navy-Marine funds. They are going to help with rental, clothing, fuel gas, and electric thank goodness. I am already out of heating oil. So I am waiting to get paid, and get about 200 dollars worth (which is 50 gallons) until I get the help from Navy Marines Fund.
Any help or suggestions
from anyone would be most helpful.
Jen, Your story is very troubling on a number of levels. I’ve edited out part of your story to help protect your privacy
First, thank you for your service.
I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you, and that you’ve been suffering for so long. But I’m glad that you’ve decided to get help to deal with these issues.
I hope you will take advantage of the counseling component of the MST program, to help you talk through and process what happened to you.
From a legal standpoint, you really need the assistance of an attorney familiar with the VA disability claims process. Yes, the DAV and American Legion will have members who are familiar with the process, but based on some of the things you have said, I believe you need legal guidance in submitting your claim.
It is crucial to the success of your claim that it be presented in the proper light, and properly substantiated. It is also important that you say certain things in a certain way. And that you not say certain things that might adversely affect your claim. There are times when something can be explained in a way that helps you, or in a way that hurts you. You need to make sure your claim is done properly. To provide you with the best possible chance of success with your claim, make sure you find an attorney experienced in VA disability claims.
There are several groups around the country providing free legal services to veterans needing to file a VA disability claim. Call your local bar association and ask if they have such a program, and if so, to give you a recommendation to one of the participating attorneys. If not, contact the following organizations.
You’ll find some local Connecticut resources at the bottom of this page.
When Duty Calls, a pro bono program of law firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice
The National Veterans Legal Service Project - Click on the tab that says "Veteran" or "What We Do" for more information
National Organization of Veterans' Advocates - Explains why legal representation is important. Click the "Attorneys & Agents" link to find attorneys in your area who participate. If there's not one near you, that's OK. Call one that's listed, see if they'll help you, and if not, ask if they know of someone in your area who will.
If you are a member of a church community, make an appointment to talk with your pastor. He or she is specially trained in counseling and can help you work through these issues.
Jen, I realize you don't have access to most base resources, but for the benefit of a military member or spouse in a similar situation who may be reading this, I have another recommendation to make.
Go see the chaplain. Even if you're not a churchgoer or a "religious person," the chaplain is specially trained in counseling, and you can count on his confidentiality. He or she may also know of special local resources that are available to help you.
I'm also concerned about your need for heating oil. The Department of Health and Human Services has a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) - check out their web site and see if you would be eligible.
And please, Jen, come back here and let us know how you're doing, or if you need help with something else. I would also appreciate a report from you about what kind of help you received from the various places I've recommended. Without feedback, it's impossible to know whether these groups are actually providing the needed help, and if not, there's no need to continue recommending them.
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