Assault Victims Raise Clearance Concerns


Sexual trauma counseling must be described in full on standard questionnaire

Rick Maze
Military Times
April 4, 2011

Military sexual assault victims applying for or renewing security clearances must report any counseling received for sexual trauma, revealing intimate details to background investigators — and risking their clearance status as a result of their answers.

Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said sexual trauma counseling received in the previous seven years indeed must be reported, but it should not hurt a career. “It is highly unlikely that any mental health counseling, in and of itself, would result in the denial or revocation of a clearance,” she said.

Smith did not address the issue of privacy; she stressed this was not a Defense Department policy, but one that applies throughout the federal government.

For sexual assault victims, the requirement to report counseling is especially galling because the government decided in 2008 that service members receiving mental health counseling for combat-related mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress, do not have to report their treatment.

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