Human Rights Watch recently issued a report on the survivors of military
sexual trauma (MST), and their treatment after reporting the assault. (Here:
https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/us0516_militaryweb_1.pdf ) Although recent reforms have improved the way that the military responds
to victims of sexual assault, many of those who were assaulted were forced
out of the military in retaliation for reporting. Sometimes, survivors
who have posttraumatic stress disorder, and who respond to their assault
with decreased performance and/or alcohol or drug use, will be given a
bad conduct discharge. Others are forcibly discharged with a general discharge
under honorable conditions, along with a diagnosis of a personality disorder
or other mental health problem that they do not have.
If you’re one of those veterans who have experienced MST, there are
a few things you can do:
1. If you were given a bad conduct discharge, and you were suffering from
the effects of the assault and/or PTSD, you may ask for your discharge
to be upgraded. The National Organization for Veterans Advocates is a
2. If you are seeking treatment for PTSD as a result of MST and were given
a discharge for a “personality disorder,” it is very important
that you find a psychologist or other mental health professional willing
to do a full psychological examination. Personality disorders, by their
very definition, are resistant to change, and if you currently do not
have a personality disorder, it’s unlikely that you ever did.
3. Gather as much evidence as you can. PTSD based on personal assault,
like MST, may be proven with a number of different kinds of evidence.
Reports to friends or family members, letters you wrote, emails or other
electronic sources, diaries or journals, poor performance reviews, etc.
A visit to a chaplain, a rape crisis center, or other place can help substantiate
your claim, too.
If you need assistance with your claim for service connection, or you are
interested in an increased evaluation for PTSD or other related trauma
and stressor disorders, please contact our office for a free consultation.