A report released by the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that more than 85,000 veterans were treated last year for injuries or illness stemming from sexual abuse in the military. More than 4,000 of those veterans sought disability benefits. While more than half of the patients that the VA treated for “military sexual trauma” were women, 40 percent of the victims who received help were men.
President Barack Obama called the situation "shameful and disgraceful,” and vowed that his administration would eliminate this problem.
"We will not stop until we've seen this scourge, from what is the greatest military in the world, eliminated," Obama said. "Not only is it a crime, not only is it shameful and disgraceful, but it also is going to make and has made the military less effective than it can be."
Victims who received help this past year served in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Vietnam, a fact which demonstrates how long this problem has been going on and how long-lasting the effects can be. Sexual assault or repeated sexual harassment can cause a litany of health problems, most notably post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
VA officials say that any veteran who needs help has free access to care.
"It really is the case that a veteran can simply walk through the door, say they've had this experience, and we will get them hooked up with care. There's no documentation required. They don't need to have reported it at the time," said Dr. Margret Bell, a member of the VA's military sexual trauma team. "The emphasis is really on helping people get the treatment that they need."