Military Sexual Trauma
Military sexual trauma (MST) refers to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that happened while a Veteran was in the military. This can happen to both women and men. If you were involved in any sexual act against your will during your time in the military, you may have experienced MST. Find out how to access our free services that can help you recover.
Are you in crisis? You have options.
- Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, then press 1 to talk to someone now.
- Get private support online with the confidential Veterans Chat.
- Text 838255 to get help right away.
- Call 911.
- Go to the nearest emergency room.
What services does VA provide for Veterans who’ve experienced MST?
We provide free, confidential (private) counseling and treatment to male and female Veterans for both mental and physical health problems linked to MST.
Our services include:
- Treatment under the guidance of health care providers who have knowledge about issues linked to MST at every VA medical center and health care clinic
- Specialized outpatient mental health services focused on sexual trauma at many VA locations
- Counseling with professionals who are specially trained to treat conditions related to sexual trauma at Vet Centers across the country
- Specialized MST treatment in a residential (live-in) or inpatient setting—including gender-specific programs—for Veterans who need more intensive care
- Treatment and support for health conditions linked to MST, like:
How do I access VA services for MST?
If you’re a Veteran who has experienced MST, you can get help through VA. You don’t need to have a service-connected disability rating, and you may be able to get MST-related care even if you don’t qualify for other VA services. You also don’t need to have reported the MST or have other proof that it happened.
Here’s how to access VA services for MST:
- If you have a VA primary care provider, talk to that professional about what you’ve been through. All our primary care providers are trained in MST and can help you figure out if you have related issues, like PTSD or depression. Your provider will offer treatment and support as needed.
- If you don’t have a VA primary care provider, call your local VA medical center and ask to speak to the MST coordinator. You should feel free to ask for a provider of a specific gender if that makes you feel more comfortable. Find a VA medical center near you.
- If you’ve served in a combat zone, get free private counseling, alcohol and drug assessment, and other support at one of our 300 community Vet Centers. Find a Vet Center near you.
- If you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless:
- Visit our website to learn about VA programs for Veterans who are homeless. Learn about our homelessness programs.
- Contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838) for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A trained VA counselor will offer information about VA homeless programs, health care, and other services in your area. The call is free and confidential.
- Call or visit your local VA Community Resource and Referral Center. Even if you don’t qualify for VA health care, our staff can help you find non-VA resources you may qualify for in your community. Find your local Community Resource and Referral Center.
You can also call the VA general information hotline at 1-800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (ET).
Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments) or other benefits from VA?
You can’t get compensation for the traumatic event itself. But you may be able to get disability compensation for conditions resulting from MST—like PTSD (the most common mental health condition linked to MST). Find out if you can get disability benefits for PTSD.
Or, get help applying for disability compensation by:
- Reading our fact sheet on disability compensation for conditions related to MST. Read the fact sheet.
- Talking to the MST coordinator at your local VA regional benefit office. Find an MST coordinator near you.
Where can I find more information and support?
- Download our military sexual trauma brochure for Veterans.
- Watch a video about MST, its effects on survivors, and VA services available to Veterans who’ve experienced MST. Watch the video.
- Go to our Make the Connection website to hear stories from Veterans about their own experiences with the effects of MST, and find more resources and support. Visit Make the Connection.
- Go to the Department of Defense (DoD) Safe Helpline website, a crisis support service for members of the DOD community affected by sexual assault. When you contact the Safe Helpline, you can remain anonymous (meaning you don’t have to give your name). You can get 1-on-1 advice, support, and information 24/7—by phone, text, or online chat. You can also connect with a sexual assault response coordinator near your base or installation. Visit SafeHelpline.org.