Claiming the shortage of women in military academies puts female students at greater risk of sexual assaults and harassment, several groups sued the U.S. Department of Defense Tuesday seeking access to the schools’ admission policies and enrollment numbers. The Service Women’s Action Network, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Connecticut sued the department for violating the Freedom of Information Act. The groups say they sought enrollment data and information about recruiting and admission practices from the department in November and the information has been withheld. The groups want to see enrollment records from the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Officials at the Department of Defense did not respond to requests for comment.
Two national veterans’ advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, saying it discriminates against victims of military sexual trauma who are seeking VA disability benefits. The suit was brought by Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). They want the VA to change what they consider to be burdensome regulations governing claims for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that are based on rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment. They cite substantial gaps between benefit approvals for these claims compared to higher approvals for other PTSD claims.
The Yale Law School Veterans Legal Clinic is representing the plaintiffs and filed the suit in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The plaintiffs are asking that the rules conform to those governing PTSD claims based on combat trauma, Prisoner of War status, and fear of hostile military or terrorist activity, which are less stringent than those based on Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and are also situations that pose difficulty in obtaining corroboratory evidence. “The VA knows the current process makes veterans who’ve been harmed by military sexual harassment and assault jump through more hoops than other PTSD claimants,” said Anu Bhagwati, SWAN executive director and a former Marine Corps captain.