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Canadian Armed Forces reservist awarded benefits for PTSD related to a sexual assault, viewing of Rwanda genocide footage

by HR Law Canada

An Edmonton-based veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces reserves, who was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to a sexual assault and the viewing of graphic footage of the Rwanda genocide during pre-deployment training, has been awarded full benefits.

The woman successfully challenged a 2005 ruling by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) that previously denied her claim for PTSD.

The claim traces back to the applicant’s service from Oct. 9, 1993, to Dec. 31, 2004, with the Reserve Force, during which she experienced the traumatic events.

The panel, which held the hearing in person in Edmonton, was presented with evidence, including the applicant’s personal testimony and psychological evaluations. Notably, Dr. Beverly Frizzell’s psychological report dated July 18, 2022, played a crucial role.

The report detailed the veteran’s trauma, stating, “It was the trauma that she experienced during her military service that not only aggravated the symptoms from the past but resulted in a compounding of traumas.”

The adjudication process took into account the complex nature of PTSD, acknowledging that while the veteran’s medical records initially linked her condition to personal traumas, additional factors related to her military service were significant.

The board recognized the challenges in reporting sexual assault within the military environment, a factor corroborated by the External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Military.

“The Panel finds the Applicant credible,” acknowledging the complexities surrounding her PTSD causes and the reluctance to report military-related traumas.

Ultimately, the board ruled in favor of the applicant, granting full entitlement for PTSD under subsection 21(2) of the Pension Act, related to her service in the Reserve Force.

The board’s ruling stipulates that the veteran’s pension entitlement for PTSD will be retroactive from Feb. 1, 2021, in line with the Pension Act’s provisions.

For more information, see 100004646384 (Re), 2024 CanLII 14953 (CA VRAB).

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