Sexual Trauma

PTSD and marriage. Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay/Air Force

Some veterans (women and men) suffered personal assault and/or sexual trauma while serving on active military duty. They might still struggle with fear, anxiety, embarrassment, or profound anger as a result of these experiences. If you suffer from the effects of sexual trauma in the service, VA may be able to help you. 

Sexual Trauma Defined

Sexual trauma is defined as any lingering physical, emotional, or psychological symptoms resulting from a physical assault of a sexual nature, or battery of a sexual nature. Examples of this are:

  • Rape
  • Physical assault,
  • Domestic battering, and
  • Stalking.

Who Is Eligible For Help From the VA

Many VA facilities have special mental health services focusing specifically on sexual trauma, including specially trained counselors for veterans and their families. Each VA medical center also has a special MST coordinator who works to find the best treatment within the VA or community for those suffering from MST.

The treatments offered by VA are free and confidential, and are available for both mental and physical conditions arising from sexual trauma while in the military. Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term that the VA uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that happened to a person on active duty.

The VA Military can provide this free MST treatment to:

  • Most veterans, regardless of their type of discharge, or other eligibility for VA services.
  • Reserve/National Guard members with any type of Federal service, or a VA-rated disability.
  • Active duty members, in some cases.

The service member need not have reported the incident(s) while in service or have other documentation that they occurred to get this treatment.

How to Get Help

For immediate assistance anytime/anywhere you can contact the Veterans Crisis Line for help.

Every VA health care facility has an MST coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues to help coordinate care. They can help veterans find and access VA services and programs as well as recommend community resources. 

Contact your nearest VA medical center and ask to speak to the MST coordinator. You can ask to speak with a provider of a specific gender if that would make you feel more comfortable.

You can also contact your local Vet Center or speak to your existing VA health care provider.

You can also call VA's general information hotline at 800-827-1000 for assistance.

Conditions Related to Military Sexual Trauma

Many medical conditions may be related to sexual trauma including:

  • Post Traumatic Stress;
  • Substance Abuse;
  • Depression;
  • Other Mental Health Issues.

Compensation for Disabilities

Veterans with an other-than-dishonorable discharge may receive disability compensation for some conditions related to MST. This is a tax-free monthly payment to a veteran disabled by an injury or a disease incurred or aggravated on active service. Contact the VA MST coordinator at your local medical center for more information.

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