A week after an internal report revealed that the Department of Veterans Affairs had mishandled thousands of service-related sexual trauma claims, a bipartisan group of lawmakers united on Monday to call for action from both Congress and the agency.
"We write with alarm that veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress due to military sexual trauma are seeing their claims inadequately adjudicated and inappropriately denied by the Veterans Benefits Administration," 12 members of Congress wrote in an open letter to Robert Wilkie, the secretary of the VA.
Last week, an inspector general report within the VA found that hundreds of veterans seeking treatment for sexual trauma they experienced while in the military had their claims wrongly denied by the department. In a review of the roughly 12,000 sexual trauma cases filed in the last year alone, the inspector general found that over 1,300 had been mishandled. In case after case, processors at the VA failed to carry out additional steps mandated by department policy and prematurely denied hundreds of claims from veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress from military sexual trauma.
The same group of lawmakers who wrote the letter to Wilkie also penned a letter to Representative David P. Roe (R-Tennessee), the chairman of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs. That letter called for Roe to hold committee hearings to consider the needs of veterans affected by the VA's malfeasance. Both letters were spearheaded by Representative Ann M. Kuster (D-New Hampshire).
"If mistakes were made, we will fix them in order to ensure affected veterans are getting all of the support, benefits and services they have earned," VA press secretary Curt Cashour told the Hill.