Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term used by VA to describe any psychological trauma which resulted 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 or active duty for training. Some veterans, both men and women, suffered personal or physical assault while on active duty and they may still struggle with fear, anxiety, embarrassment, or profound anger as a result of these experiences. Examples of this can be but are not limited to rape, physical assault, domestic battering, and stalking. Some difficulties that can be experienced by survivors of MST include:
• Disturbing memories or nightmares • Feelings of numbness • Trouble sleeping • Depression, anger and irritability • Relationship difficulties • Problems with drugs and alcohol • Physical health problems
The VA provides free, confidential counseling and treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to experiences of MST. You do not need to have a service-connected disability to receive treatment. You may be able to receive this benefit even if you are not eligible for other VA care. Incidents need not have been reported or documented when they occurred.
Every VA medical facility has a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. This person is your advocate and can help you find and access VA services and programs, state and federal benefits, and community resources.
Every VA facility has providers knowledgeable about treatment for the after effects of MST. Many have specialized outpatient mental health services focusing on sexual trauma. To accommodate veterans who do not feel comfortable in mixed-gender treatment settings, some VA facilities have separate programs for men and women. All residential and inpatient MST programs have separate sleeping areas for men and women. Additionally, Vet Centers have specially trained sexual trauma counselors and all conversations and records are kept confidential and are not accessible by the VA.
Also, please refer to our page on Mental Health and the Resources tab below.
VA Hotline for women veterans: 1-855-VA-WOMEN
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