Military Sexual Trauma

Statistics show that most victims of sexual assault know their attackers and that 85 to 90 percent of assaults are alcohol related. (Air Force photo illustration by Margo Wright)

The Department of Veterans Affairs can provide free and confidential counseling and treatment services 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.

Anyone can experience MST, so all can be treated. 

Treatment Services

VA offers several types of assistance for those suffering from MST including:

Outpatient Care

  • Every VA health care facility has providers knowledgeable about treatment for problems related to MST. Because MST is associated with a range of mental health problems, VA's general services for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)depressionanxietysubstance abuse, and others are important resources for MST survivors.
  • Many VA facilities have specialized outpatient mental health services focusing specifically on sexual trauma.
  • Many Vet Centers also have specially trained sexual trauma counselors for those suffering from MST and their family members.

Residential/Inpatient Care

  • VA has programs that offer specialized MST treatment in a residential or inpatient setting. These programs are for veterans who need more intense treatment and support.
  • Because some veterans do not feel comfortable in mixed-gender treatment settings, most VA facilities have separate programs for men and women. All residential and inpatient MST programs have separate sleeping areas for men and women.

How can I get more information about services?

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.

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