Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Program
What is MST
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses the term “military sexual trauma” (MST) to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment experienced while on federal active duty or active duty for training. More concretely, MST includes any sexual activity where someone is involved against his or her will -- he or she may have been pressured into sexual activities (e.g., threats of negative consequences), may have been unable to consent to sexual activities (e.g., intoxicated), or may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing; threatening, offensive remarks about a person's body or sexual activities; and threatening and unwelcome sexual advances.
How common is MST?
National data from this program reveal that about 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men respond “yes,” that they experienced MST, when screened by their VA healthcare provider. Although rates of MST are higher among women, because there are so many more men than women in the military, there are actually significant numbers of women and men seen in VA who have experienced MST.
How can MST affect Veterans?
MST is an experience, not a diagnosis or a mental health condition, and as with other forms of trauma, there are a variety of reactions that Veterans can have in response to MST. Although trauma can be a life-changing event, people are often remarkably resilient after experiencing trauma. Many individuals recover without professional help; others may function well in general, but continue to experience some level of difficulties or have strong reactions in certain situations. For some Veterans, experiences of MST may continue to affect their mental and physical health in significant ways, even many years later.
Some of the experiences both female and male survivors of MST may have include:
• Strong emotions
• Feelings of numbness
• Trouble sleeping
• Difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory
• Problems with alcohol or other drugs
• Difficulty with things that remind them of their experiences of sexual trauma
• Difficulties in relationships
• Physical health problems
What MST-related services does VA provide?
VA is strongly committed to ensuring that Veterans have access to the help they need in order to recover from MST. OGJVAMC has providers knowledgeable about of the after effects of MST and provides outpatient services for MST-related conditions, including:
• Formal psychological assessment and evaluation
• Individual and group psychotherapy.
OGJVAMC also has a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues and can help Veterans find and access VA services and programs.
Recognizing that many survivors of sexual trauma do not disclose their experiences unless asked directly, VA healthcare providers ask every Veteran whether he or she experienced MST. This is an important way of making sure Veterans know about the services available to them.
All treatment for conditions related to MST is provided to Veterans free of charge. This includes outpatient, inpatient, residential, and pharmaceutical treatment. To receive this free MST-related care, Veterans do not need to be service connected (that is, have a VA disability rating). Veterans may be able to receive free MST-related care even if they are not eligible for other VA care. Veterans do not need to have reported the incident(s) when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred.
For more information about VA's MST-related services go to www.mentalhealth.va.gov/msthome/asp
- 3rd Floor, Room 3170
- 906-774-3300 Ext. 32531
- 800-215-8262 Ext. 32531
Hours of Operation
- 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.