Victims of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder have long been exempted from disclosing any counseling they received on what is known as Form 86 — which anyone seeking security clearance must complete. Since a 2013 intervention by Pingree, survivors of sexual assault have also been exempt from disclosing that they have received counseling, according to Pingree. That may change soon as Form 86 is reworked and possibly stripped of all exemptions from the counseling question — including for people with PTSD, sexual assault survivors, and people who have been divorced or lost loved ones.
“I want to express my urgent concern that the counseling exemption for [military sexual trauma] survivors included in your interim guidance — that has proven to be so successful and so significant for survivors of rape in the military — is poised for elimination,” wrote Pingree in an April 13 letter to James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence. “I ask that you do not go back, changing the rules yet again and expecting that the best of intentions will somehow eliminate the stigma of counseling or the fear that any mention of counseling will derail a career.”
Pingree cited a number of sexual assault survivors that fear of having to disclose past counseling would block security clearance approval and hinder their careers. Pingree said she has heard that the revised Form 86 could ask applicants if stress or trauma has ever affected them at work and if so, would ask them to report any counseling they have received. — Christopher Cousins