Home Featured CAF reservist awarded increased disability assessment for PTSD over issues of sexual harassment and mistrust in military

CAF reservist awarded increased disability assessment for PTSD over issues of sexual harassment and mistrust in military

by HR Law Canada

A Canadian Armed Forces reservist has been awarded an increased disability assessment for her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The applicant, who has served in the Reserve Force from Jan. 31, 2008, to March 20, 2013, and again from July 5, 2017, to the present, initially received a 36% assessment in a Disability Benefit Decision dated Feb. 25, 2022.

Following this, the applicant sought an increase to 64%, citing a Medical Impairment Rating (MIR) of 55 and a Quality of Life Level 2 rating of 9. Her case was heard by the Veterans Review and Appeal Board of Canada.

What happened?

The reservist reported experiencing significant trauma, including instances of sexual harassment and mistrust within the military.

She faced numerous episodes of sexual comments and inappropriate touching from fellow military members, harassment that seems to have been a persistent issue since she joined the ranks.

The applicant recounted a particularly distressing event that occurred about three years prior to the assessment. After a class party, the applicant was sexually groped by an acquaintance and narrowly escaped an attempted rape.

According to her psychiatrist, male members of the military spread “malicious sexual rumours” about her and someone made a fake Facebook account to send messages to her husband, suggesting she was “cheating” and “being passed around male peers.”

“I do not trust people,” the reservist said. “I don’t like to be social as much anymore because I’m constantly worried about what rumours will be spread about me. I do not rust people or my partner.”

The applicant’s personal life was deeply affected, including a breakdown in marriage and the need for assistance with household tasks due to anxiety. The applicant also reported changes in recreational activities and social interactions.

The decision

The hearing considered three Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) Clinic letters and treatment plans, alongside the applicant’s own testimony about the impact of PTSD on their daily life, including loss of appetite and ongoing anxiety.

The Panel’s analysis involved a detailed examination of the applicant’s psychiatric impairment under Chapter 21 of the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Table of Disabilities. The assessment included considerations for loss of function in thought, cognition, emotion, behavior, and coping, as well as treatment needs.

The applicant’s struggle with anxiety and PTSD symptoms, such as sleep problems and fatigue, were acknowledged.

However, the Panel did not find enough evidence to increase the assessment to the requested 64%. It ruled that the applicant’s Quality of Life rating remains at Level 1, acknowledging some degree of change in the applicant’s ability to function in personal relationships and the community.

The Panel emphasized the applicant’s continued full-time work as a Class B Reservist in the orderly room and the fact she is still able to drive.

“Working and earning a salary and being able to drive a vehicle grants a great amount of autonomy and financial freedom,” it said. “While some previous activities have been dropped, new activities have been substituted. The Applicant shares custody of children and has been in a stable relationship for several years.”

It decided to increase the assessment for her condition of PTSD to 50%, effective Oct. 1, 2021.

For more information see 100004876441 (Re), 2023 CanLII 117031 (CA VRAB)

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