December 12, 2012

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs this week to urge them to treat women veterans suffering from service-related Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD) the same as men suffering from Erectile Dysfunction (ED).

“I’ve heard from female veterans who have had their disabilityclaims denied because the VA doesn’t even have a diagnostic code for this condition. They are clearly suffering because of their sexual assault, but the VA just isn’t set up to treat themfairly and equitably,” said Pingree. “Men can get benefits and treatment with Viagra or other drugs but female veterans are left to deal with this condition on their own.”

Victims of sexual assault often suffer from FSAD and ED, based on the physical and psychological effects of sexual trauma or as a side effect of medication used to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. In the case of male veterans, if the condition is related to their military service, they can qualify for disability benefits. However, the VA doesn’t provide similar benefits for female veterans.

Pingree wrote to General Allison Hickey, a VA Under Secretary who Pingree has worked closely with on other issues surrounding Military Sexual Trauma, asking her to make the necessary changes to treat female veterans equally.

“I think you would agree with me that the disability claims system should equally support men and women veterans, and if men are commonly service-connected for a condition, then their female veteran counterparts who suffer similar service-related injuries should receive thesame benefit,” Pingree wrote in the letter to Hickey.

“For both women and men who are trauma survivors, these are serious conditions that have a big impact on the quality of their lives. If they came about because of something that happened while they were serving, they should be treated and compensated equally.”