Eileen Moore agreed to volunteer as a mentor to veterans in the Orange County Community Court because of her deep commitment to military men and women and her experience as a combat nurse during the Vietnam War. She’s also an associate justice for the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal, so her knowledge of the law likely came in handy from time to time. “Over the years, I’ve mentored most of the women, but sometimes men as well,” she said. In 2015, vets in the OCCC Veterans Treatment Court were 85 percent men and 15 percent women.
“My observations are mainly about the women. That is, there is only so much money. And almost all of the people who end up sideways of the law as defendants in the veterans court are men, so that the court is necessarily geared towards the men rather than the women,” Moore said. She believes the women’s needs are not completely different from the men’s, but estimates that in her years supporting vets in the program “between 90 and 95 percent of the women that I’ve mentored have been victims of military sexual trauma.”
The federal government defines military sexual trauma as “psychological trauma resulting from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.” The Department of Veterans Affairs stipulates that while “veterans are not granted compensation for the traumatic event itself” they may receive “disability compensation for conditions that result from MST.” The VA has a published list of signs, events, or circumstances it calls “markers” that can be used to determine if someone has suffered MST. They include substance abuse, depression, panic attacks, sexual dysfunction, STDs, requests for transfers while active, worsening work performance, among others.