National Guard, Reserves first up in expansion of VA sex assault treatment
“The VA on Monday extended sexual assault counseling and treatment programs to some National Guard and Reserve veterans for the first time.
Now, those who suffered sexual trauma during weekend non-active-duty training can seek the same psychological help promised to active-duty vets, the Department of Veterans Affairs said.
It is the first in a series of reforms recently passed by Congress as part of a massive VA overhaul bill aimed in part at increasing access to care in the midst of a stubborn epidemic of sexual violence in the military. Over the next two years, the changes will also remove paperwork barriers to treatment for current active-duty troops and require new Capitol Hill oversight of VA efforts.
By next summer, the law requires the VA and the Defense Department to tear down requirements that servicemembers show some proof of assault or harassment before getting treatment. Advocates compare the changes to earlier – and now abandoned — requirements that victims of post-traumatic stress disorder provide some paperwork to prove their injuries.
Troops will be able to get VA treatment for sex assault without substantiating documents or a referral from military authorities or doctors, according to the new law.”