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***STATEMENT*** PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS CALLS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO MAKE CRITICAL REFORMS TO THEIR TREATMENT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2018

***STATEMENT***

PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS CALLS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO MAKE CRITICAL REFORMS TO THEIR TREATMENT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS

Washington, D.C. — Today, the VA Inspector General released the results of an investigation of the Department of Veterans Affairs in which the VA was found to have improperly denied hundreds of military sexual trauma claims leaving thousands of veterans to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder without receiving any benefits. The investigation also revealed that the agency mishandled nearly 1,300 sexual assault claims over a six-month period while 12,000 sexual assault-related PTSD claims are made by veterans every year.

Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:

“We call on the VA to immediately implement the reforms recommended by the Inspector General to correct this injustice. The VA’s failure to properly adjudicate military sexual trauma claims has likely denied thousands of suffering veterans the treatment and benefits they are entitled to.

“The Inspector General acknowledged that there are unique barriers to reporting sexual assault and rape in the military including the fear of retaliation and ‘an unresponsive military chain of command.’ The VA must not compound the shortcomings of an ineffective and archaic military justice system that all too often fails survivors by improperly denying them care after they leave the military.”

USA Today: Sexual trauma claims by veterans wrongly denied by VA, investigation finds
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/08/21/va-wrongly-denied-hundreds-veteran-claims-military-sexual-trauma/1051558002/

The Wall Street Journal: VA May Have Erred in Rejecting Sexual-Trauma Claims, Report Says
https://www.wsj.com/articles/va-may-have-erred-in-rejecting-sexual-trauma-claims-report-says-1534867267

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