Transgender issues in the military received a swift kick in the teeth this week. On the other hand, because the laws are poorly developed and unclear, transgender military veterans have an advantage.
Personally, I believe Veterans willing to put forth the work with their VA claim, are going to see a lot of positive outcomes.
Most military vets know this, but it is worth repeating. Seeking VA benefits is hard. Adding a gender identity issue expeditiously increases the complexity of the claim. But, it is certainly worth it.
But, most of this success will not come to fruition until the military veteran is discharged and a claim is filed with the VA.
Transgender VA Claims
As of the date for this post, there are literally, tens of thousands (+10,000) VA cases to search and read. Would you believe there are only two (2) cases that speak directly to gender identity and transgender issues?
For those curious, one veteran was somewhat successful (they confirmed a 30% disability rating for PTSD), while the other veteran spent years making the same error. The value in bringing this to your attention, is to learn from their successes and mistakes.
Yes, I commend both military veterans for seeking and appealing their VA benefits. I believe both transgender veterans failed at being more successful with their claims because they focused on the wrong issues. Here is what I mean.
Why Veteran Gender Identify Claims Were Denied
Without knowing the background for either transgender veteran, I believe the appeals were rejected because they, the veterans, focused on events prior to their military service versus issues during their service. Outlining events related to being a transgender veteran are important. Attaching a documented concern while serving is more important.
Successful Transgender VA Appeals
It is reported that 15,500 people serving in the military right now, claim they have a unique and special gender-related issue. In my role as a veteran advocate, I cannot stress this enough: gender isn’t the primary issue. Instead, I believe successful claims look something like:
- Veterans outlining a physical ailment or injury, or
- Transgender vets finding a primary mental health issue that started or was aggravated while serving.
Additionally, military veterans are encouraged to find long-term support outside their VA claim.
Physical and Mental Health Issues
Of course, gender definitely highlights physical and mental impairments. Every veteran has a gender. Whether the veteran sees value in assigning a term like transgender or gender dysphoria isn’t the starting point for seeking a claim for benefits.
Instead, start with a physical or mental health issue.
Long Term Support for Transgender Claims
Here is what I mean by long-term support: finding a veteran advocate that can handle a fairly lengthy VA appeal process (both BVA and Court of Appeals).
Again, whether there is a gender issue or not, a VA claim can take years and years, and worth the fight. Please contact me directly if you need help with your claim.