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  • 1 Star Gen

     

    After reporting her sexual assault, a now-retired lieutenant colonel with the West Virginia Army National Guard was retaliated against by a brigadier general, the Defense Department's inspector general said in a new report.

  • Sexual assault 003

     

    The Defense Department in September released a first-of-its-kind study that estimates the risk of sexual assault service members face at different installations. The estimates were based on more than 170,000 survey responses service members completed in 2014 on whether they had personally experienced sexual assault. The data has limitations, but military officials will use it to help identify high-risk areas and see what additional steps can be taken to increase safety for men and women assigned there. The data is searchable by service, risk, location and estimated number of assaults.

    Service members can use the chart below, drawn from the detailed data tables published by RAND, to search for individual military installations and ships.

    The study conducted by the Rand Corporation includes two key measurements:

    Overall Sexual Assault Risk: This number indicates the average expected risk for the average men and women at the individual installations. For example, a 10 percent risk for sexual assault means it’s likely that one in 10 service members at that installation or ship will experience a sexual assault during the year. This number is affected by many factors, such as the age, rank or gender of the personnel assigned there. For example, installations with many younger, unmarried and junior ranking personnel (all risk factors) tend to have higher risk solely based on those demographic risk factors.

    Installation-specific risk: This number measures the risk for sexual assault that controls for all those personal factors and aims to more directly answer the question: Are individuals more at risk for a sexual assault here than elsewhere? This installation-specific risk may be associated with installation characteristics such as command climate, the community outside the gates of the installation, or other factors. A positive number indicates service members at that installation face an elevated risk for sexual assault, and a negative number indicates the risk there is lower than expected for a base of that size and demographic. For example, an installation with an installation-specific risk of 1 percent (or -1 percent) means that troops at that location are one percent more likely (or less likely) to experience a sexual assault compared to the average for a base of that size and demographic. To calculate installation-specific risk, RAND employed a number of analytical tools and computer models to create its best estimate on the probability a service member may face sexual assault at that location. The percentages reported are RAND’s best estimate based on its analysis of the 2014 survey data.

    Sexual assaults by service, gender and location

    (Click Source to view charts)

    Source

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  • Sexual Harassment

     

    Traditional methods can backfire, but ideas like teaching bystanders to intervene and promoting more women have proved effective.

  • Sex Trauma Denied

     

    WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs improperly denied hundreds of military sexual trauma claims in recent years, leaving potentially thousands of Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder without benefits, a VA inspector general investigation found.

  • MST Claims Denied

     

    More and more active US service members are reporting sexual abuse. So are Veterans—but a recent report found that at least 1,300 sexual trauma claims may have been wrongly declined by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

    In 2017 alone, more than 5,200 active members (pdf, p.9) of the US military reported they’d been sexually abused during service. This is a 10% increase over the previous year, likely linked to increased attention and legislative action in recent years. Still, the cases that get reported are only a small percentage (pdf, p.11) of total incidents, according to the Department of Defense’s estimates.

    Veterans were even more likely to come forward with stories of sexual abuse or harassment in the military. Over the past three years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says it processed about 12,000 claims annually for disability compensation and other benefits due to sexual trauma. Seventy-nine percent of claimants were women.

    Since 2011, VA guidelines have supported victims in their process of coming forward. The agency applies a so-called “liberal approach” to to the kind of evidence of abuse it accepts: For instance, it looks for circumstantial “markers” that would corroborate the survivor’s claim, such as changes in behavior, substance abuse, unexplained leave of absence, changes in relationships.

    Yet the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that many claims have been reviewed inadequately. According to a report released on Aug. 21, about 1,300 claims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) connected to sexual trauma during military service were denied without following the correct procedure between April and September 2017 alone.

    The OIG sampled 169 claims filed during that period and found that half—82 cases—had been mishandled and wrongly rejected for simple procedural errors. The causes of such mishandling have been found to be primarily procedural: In 28% of cases, survivors who qualified for medical examinations to confirm their claims were not given one. In 13% of cases, there was a failure in gathering evidence. In 11%, the Veterans filing the claims were not contacted by the VA’s officers reviewing the claims. And in 10% of cases, the OIG found that reviewers misjudged claims of sexual abuse due to incomplete and controversial information.

    This only reflects a few months worth of processing, which means that thousands more claims may have been mishandled over the years. According to the report, reviewers may not have received adequate training, and did not follow guidelines and procedures. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has issued a letter to the VA demanding specific details about how it intends to move forward in the review process.

    The VA told Quartz that it concurs with and approves of the OIG’s recommendations, and that it will begin implementing right away. “We know this is an area where the department can improve,” a spokesperson said, adding that the VA has required all officers processing claims to take specific training to handle military sexual assault.

    Further, the agency will review all denied claims decided between October 2016 and June 2018. “If mistakes were made,” the spokesperson said, “we will fix them in order to ensure affected Veterans are getting all of the support, benefits and services they have earned.”

    Source

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