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NVLSP Launches New Initiative to Help Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

Released 9/25/14 | Tags: Military Sexual Trauma, Veteran's Benefits

Equal Justice Works Fellow to Build Program Assisting Military Veterans with Disability Benefits

WASHINGTON –The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is proud to announce the formal launch of a new program to address the needs of thousands of veterans who are survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) and need assistance in obtaining VA disability benefits.

According to the VA, one in four women and one in 100 men serving in the Armed Forces have experienced MST. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among veterans who have experienced a sexual assault, or repeated threatening sexual harassment, while in the military. Because many survivors are fearful of reporting MST while in the military, they face a high hurdle when trying to obtain disability compensation from the VA for PTSD that resulted from MST.

Survivors with MST-related PTSD can win their VA claims if they have an effective and trained legal advocate who thoroughly reviews military, medical and personnel records and then develops the evidence needed to support their VA claims. Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of expert legal pro-bono representation available to assist these veterans.

With the arrival of Equal Justice Works fellow Tiffany Kelley, NVLSP now has a full-time knowledgeable advocate for veterans who will be wholly dedicated to connecting essential expert legal pro bono representation to veteran survivors of MST in need of assistance.  Kelley is an Army veteran who has previously worked with wounded, injured, and ill service members while she was assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit.  During law school, Kelley became familiar with veterans law while serving as an intern with NVLSP.   Due to her military experience and knowledge of veterans law, Kelley is uniquely qualified to support MST survivors.

Kelley will be building on NVLSP’s proven model of utilizing pro-bono legal assistance to make representation of MST victims a signature pro bono project.  Kelley’s Equal Justice Works fellowship is sponsored by Raytheon Company and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Veterans seeking assistance should contact Kelley by emailing MSTsurvivor@nvlsp.org. All legal services provided to veterans through NVLSP are provided free of charge.

Press and media interview requests should be directed to Ami Neiberger-Miller, 703-887-4877, ami@steppingstoneLLC.com.

Equal Justice Works is the national leader in creating public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers. Collaborating with the nation’s leading law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments, and nonprofit organizations, Equal Justice Works offers a continuum of opportunities that provide the training and skills that enable attorneys to provide effective representation to underserved communities and causes.  Equal Justice Works is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.  For additional information about Equal Justice Works, please visit: http://www.equaljusticeworks.org.

The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent, nonprofit veterans service organization that has served active duty military personnel and veterans since 1980. NVLSP strives to ensure that our nation honors its commitment to its 22 million veterans and active duty personnel by ensuring they have the federal benefits they have earned through their service to our country. NVSLP offers training for attorneys and other advocates, connects veterans and active duty personnel with pro bono legal help when seeking disability benefits, publishes the nation's definitive guide on veteran benefits, and represents and litigates for veterans and their families before the VA, military discharge review agencies and federal courts. For more information go to www.nvlsp.org.

Reference: VA Fact Sheet on MST.


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