WINNING A VA CLAIM FOR MST
Your Checklist – You Will Need
1. A diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety and/or depression from your Provider (filing for “MST” will not work).
2. A Nexus which needs to be written by your provider as a letter or (in your medical chart) as a note. Copy this text:
“After reviewing ___________’s medical records it is my opinion, more likely than not, her/his PTSD, Depression/Anxiety (PTSD, Anxiety/Depression – whatever it specifically is you filed for in your claim and must match exactly) is a direct result of military sexual trauma s/he experienced while serving on active duty.”
3. Evidence (a police report, hospital exam, etc. Do not be surprised if this has been sanitized from your military records) or Alternative Evidence VA form #21=0781a.
This is used as “Alternative Evidence” and you need to explain each one of the “markers” they have on Page 3. If you did not have one of these markers, then state it specifically: “I did not use over the counter medications, because I had prescription medications for anxiety.” If you did have one of these markers, then state specifically: “I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years after the assault.”
4. A copy of anything showing you had problems in the military, such as being AWOL, ARTICLE 15 or a letter from someone who knew you at the time or before and after you served in the military and can attest to the major behavior changes you have shown. Everything should state “I swear this is accurate and true to the best of my ability.”
5. A GAF score (Global Assessment of Functioning) can be assigned by your provider at each appointment you go to. You must ask for this (typically for PTSD the numbers would range between 35-45).
Remember, winning has everything to do with submitting the correct paperwork, and following up.
Your stories, no matter how compelling, are best left to your therapist, and have no place here, unless it provides information on where to find Evidence. For example:
“After the assault I went to the Mayberry Police Department and they filed a report.”
Writing about your horrific rape situation is not required, so if anyone asks, it is likely that they do not know the legal requirements for winning an MST claim. If you have concerns about your interviewers line of questioning, imagine for a moment that you are instead making a claim because “I lost my leg when I stepped on an IED”. Now see if their questions make sense.
Q: “What were you doing out so late?”
A: The issue here is “I was assaulted.”
You MUST have all of the above to win a claim if you do not have a police report, hospital report, or other documentation. So any statement about court martial or punishment will be added insurance for your win.
So again, you need the Diagnosis, Nexus and Evidence to win your VA claim. Try to keep it simple.
Completing Form VA-21-0781a
You may want to ask for help with this.
Just fill in Description of the Incident as “sexual assault” or “personal assault” by a known person – STATE THEIR NAME, THEIR UNIT INFORMATION and if they were punished and how. If you do not know who it was, state that.
So, “On or about July 12, 1986 (very important here – if the actual date was was July 11th, you could lose your case) I was assaulted by John Doe, a corporal who was assigned to HOC 733rd MI Bn, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii – the same unit I was assigned to.”
NOTE: If you cannot remember the date, narrow it down to a three month time frame – a season, holiday, or event like the Presidential Elections. (This is used to cross-check the paperwork and nothing else. If the paperwork is not there because the dates are wrong, then likely you will not win, so the date range is crucial.)
You do not need to find your Military paperwork (medical records and personnel files). The VA will look for these when you file your claim. Any other documentation (e.g. JAG, MP, DAILY ROSTER, ETC.) will need to be requested from the VA separately. It is the VA’s job to get any paperwork and they can get it much more quickly than you can (the DoD most likely will not give it to you if you request it yourself for privacy reasons).
You will need to sign a Release of Information for the VA to get these.
Leave page two with a line through it, and write “N/A” (Not Applicable).
Do not include another incident unless you are willing to wait for a very long time. The wait is already more than a year, unless you are homeless. According to the VA rules, you are considered homeless if you do not have a rental agreement, mortgage or lease (if you are couch surfing, you are homeless). If you are Homeless, or have serious financial difficulty you must explain this. Every sentence with every person you have with at the VA should begin with “I am a homeless veteran, and . . .”
Expedited claims can be 3 months. To choose which incident to file for (if there is more than one) pick the one that has been documented in military/medical records, no matter how small.
The main thing is to address each of the items shown above. If you had/did something, say it. If not, say you did not do this. If you did not have any one of these markers, then state it specifically. For example:
“I did not use over the counter medications, because I had prescription medications for anxiety.”
If you did have one of these markers, then state specifically. For example:
“I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years after the assault.”
You need to explain each one of the “markers” listed on page 3.
Filing for you MST claim can help in your healing process. Consider helping three other veterans when you are ready to.
We hope this information is helpful. The entire process is confusing. Use this as a checklist, ask questions and stay in touch.
Toll Free Numbers for Contacting VA
VA Benefits: 1-800-827-1000