Military Sexual Assault Survivors Face Broken VA Treatment System

Meredith Clark | MSNBC | July 19, 2013

Former Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brian Lewis had a clear answer when asked what he thought about the current Veterans’ Health Administration system for treating survivors of military sexual trauma: “I cannot in good conscience recommend VA to a survivor of military sexual assault at this time,” he told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Lewis and veterans of all branches of the United States military described to the committee Friday their nightmarish experiences of trying to get treatment for military sexual trauma, and while government representatives agreed changes need to be made, progress is likely to be slow.

After months of contentious debate over how to change the way the military handled the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault in the ranks, the three women and one man who spoke Friday morning detailed yet another obstacle course of bureaucratic quagmires, inadequate resources, and insensitive and inadequately trained health care providers. As Victoria Sanders, an Army veteran and registered nurse who was raped 38 years ago at age 20, VA treatment for her assault-related PTSD led to being “re-traumatized on many occasions.” [...]