On behalf of California Employment Counsel, APC on Friday, February 22, 2019.

Few jobs can match the military when it comes to the amount of PTSD claims made per year. These brave men and women do a lot for our country and often witness horrific sites that no one should have to see in person. However, not all of this trauma happens on the battlefield.

While soldiers and veterans are often seen as tough and strong individuals, they are still vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault that continues to plague multiple industries to this very day. They label these tragic experiences as military sexual trauma (MST). While the #MeToo movement has made them more aware of these issues in their ranks, recent evidence suggests that there may be an unfair gender gap over which claims they accept.

Unequal benefits

In early February, the former Director of the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veteran Affairs wrote an editorial for The Hill that criticized her former workplace for denying so many male PTSD claims for MST. While she does praise the 20 percent increase in grants for claims for the last decade, she noticed that the grant rate for men was 13 percent lower than women.

Most people believe that this is primarily due to military men having a lower MST rate than women. However, the former director believes that there are multiple factors that influence these numbers. These factors include:

  • Potentially denying thousands of victims benefits from paperwork and procedural mistakes
  • Lack of training for filing an MST claim
  • Men viewing the incident as hazing or intentional abuse
  • Men being less likely to report harassment or an assault
  • Lack of knowledge over how many men experience MST in the military

Closing the gap

Most of these implications by the former director reveal that there is a severe lack of awareness when it comes to male MST claims. Many of the men appear unaware that they can get help and that it is all right to speak up about their troubled experiences.

Their employers should educate them on the issue and what they can do to begin recovering from the traumatic experience. The Department of Veteran Affairs needs to ensure that these men receive the proper training and that they will avoid procedural mistakes that could prevent a victim from getting the care they need.

Military men in California should know that it isn’t just women who can suffer from sexual harassment in the work place. Everyone deserves a safe work environment as they continue to serve their country. Those who do not know how to file a claim should seek an expert on employment law to help them with the process.