Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lockely on PTSD and Gender

Kimberly Joy-Lockely at Mississippi Law has uploaded "How Gender Bias Negatively Affects Soldiers with PTSD."  Its abstract reads: 

The Veteran’s Administration (VA) is charged with caring for our nation’s veterans, but their procedures allow for a gender bias that is causing countless veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) to remain without adequate help. Though women have been involved in every military conflict in the United States, women continue to be treated differently than men. Women were not granted official military status until 1949, but they currently make up the fastest growing portion of the veteran population. The impending lift of the ban on women in combat will likely only increase women’s involvement in the military, so their disparate treatment must be dealt with quickly to avoid an increase in an already prevalent problem.

The VA only currently recognizes two types of PTSD: Military Sexual Trauma-related PTSD (MST) and Combat-related PTSD. MST complaints increased 46% from 2012 to 2013. An estimated 26,000 men and women experienced MST in 2011, but only 3,300 of those victims filed reports. Increased numbers of women are seeing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 15% of active duty soldiers are females. Because of the gender bias in the military sexual trauma reporting process and the VA in-processing, the already over-burdened VA system has become even more inefficient and female and male veterans alike are the ones harmed.

Various failures on the VA’s part account for veterans’ difficulties in obtaining earned and promised benefits. For example, the two types of PTSD have different burden of proof structures, and the interviewers who determine whether or not a veteran gets benefits have an extreme gender bias. Even worse, the VA did not offer mental healthcare services to women until 1988, and the VA currently only has four facilities dedicated to women’s care.

Men are expected to be “stronger” than to have psychological or emotional issues and women who are already often perceived as “weaker” do not wish to add to that perception by admitting any struggles. Each sex fears retribution, loss of promotion, loss of opportunity to re-enlist, and loss of the respect of their superiors and/or peers. Though Congress has recently attempted a weak solution, it is quite simply not even close to being enough to close the gender gap. This paper proposes a three-tiered solution focusing on enhancing reporting schemes within the military and the relationship between the military and the VA, restructuring the PTSD intake within the VA, and adopting a common sense approach to VA benefits.

Part I of this paper will discuss the history of women in the military, the history of PTSD, and gender bias’ role in PTSD; part II of this paper will discuss and analyze the military’s, Congress’, and the VA’s failures in consistently and adequately serving soldiers and veterans with PTSD. Part III of this paper will discuss ways in which the military and VA can improve including recent Congressional steps that have attempted to do so.

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2014/06/lockely-on-ptsd-and-gender.html

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