The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

October 4, 2013

Lunacy, not logic, continues at the VA

(Continued)

A.Z.’s request for reconsideration stated that “she did not report these incidents to the military legal authorities” because she “was a young girl, sexually assaulted, verbally abused and beaten by a superior [officer] and she was in fear of her life.”

That request was denied, as was her appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Claims. It said the siblings’ testimony wasn’t enough to overcome the absence of documentation because “none of these individuals ... claimed to witness any personal assault take place.”

Seriously, that’s what the VA thinks it takes, an eyewitness? Another layer of review, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, upheld the dismissal.

The second woman’s claim met similar obstacles. A.Y., who served honorably from 1980 to 1983, was diagnosed with PTSD in 2002 and attributed the disability to a sexual assault by another soldier during military training.

A.Y.’s service records also contain no mention of an assault. But her ex-husband submitted a statement asserting that she told him about it when they were serving together. A fellow soldier said that A.Y. told her about the assault the day after it occurred and subsequently “became despondent and discussed suicide.” A roommate at her next duty assignment reported that A.Y. attempted suicide and was treated at a base hospital.

Again, not enough. “The statements you provided from your friends and family were insufficient to substantiate your claimed stressor, since none of them witnessed the incident, and only knew of the incident due to your statements alone,” the VA’s regional office concluded.

This is lunacy. I don’t know whether these women were sexually assaulted, or whether the assaults resulted in PTSD, or whether they should receive benefits. I do know that the absence of (documentary) evidence is not evidence of absence.

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