Via HLS News

Helping veterans recover from sexual trauma

Invisible Wounds of War Veterans Clinic HLB Fall 2016

Credit: Illustration by Shonagh Rae

The challenge came two years ago: A U.S. Marine Corps veteran needed help. She’d been sexually assaulted by another Marine in the late 1960s. Decades later, she told VA officials, who didn’t believe her story and denied her disability compensation to help treat her post-traumatic stress. Could Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center help?

Since then, students and staff at the center’s Veterans Legal Clinic have rallied behind her case and scored a key victory on her behalf. It’s part of a growing area of practice for the 4-year-old clinic. Military sexual trauma—rape or sexual harassment during military service—is a fast-emerging issue in the nation’s care for veterans.

“It’s exactly the kind of case you want to work on,” says Harvard Law student Maile Yeats-Rowe ’17, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Kuwait. “It’s a case where we can make a real difference, and maybe move the needle on how the VA sees this.”

The Veterans Legal Clinic was founded to deal with the special problems of low-income veterans and to help bridge the nation’s military-civilian divide.

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