Military Sexual Trauma
Military Sexual Trauma
Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During SAAM and year-round, VA works to increase public awareness of VA's services and support for Veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST), the term VA uses to refer to sexual assault or sexual harassment during military service.
This year, VA's message for Sexual Assault Awareness Month is focused on our support for MST survivors and our confidence in their strength, resilience, and ability to continue healing:
"We believe you — and we believe in you."
Learn more about MST below, and explore resources to help spread the word about support available to MST survivors in your community.
MST is any sexual activity in which a person is involved against their will, such as being pressured or physically forced into sexual activities, sexual contact without consent, and threatening and unwanted sexual advances or comments. Anyone in the military can experience sexual trauma, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, age, race, or branch of service. Experiencing MST can affect physical and mental health, even many years later.
VA provides Veterans with free treatment for any physical or mental health conditions related to MST. No documentation of the MST experience or VA disability compensation rating is required. Some Veterans can receive this free MST-related care even if they are not eligible for other VA care.
Compassionate VA professionals are ready to listen and help connect you to the resources you need. Every VA health care facility has an MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues and can assist Veterans in accessing care. For questions about treatment and health care options related to MST, contact your local VA medical center and ask to speak to the MST Coordinator.
Supporters: Spread the Word
Help VA make sure that all Veterans who experienced MST know that they are not alone and that support is available. Encourage MST survivors to find help, hope, and healing with VA by sharing the information and resources below.
- Social Media: Share Facebook and Instagram posts with your social network during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. (Please download the video social posts here: Facebook/Twitter Slideshow, Instagram Slideshow, Facebook/Twitter Dynamic 1, Instagram Dynamic 1, Facebook/Twitter Dynamic 2, Instagram Dynamic 2).
- Newsletter: Publish this article or share it as a newsletter with your contacts to build awareness of SAAM and VA's resources for MST survivors.
- FAQs: Use this resource when speaking with colleagues, event attendees, or MST survivors. Talking points focus on how MST is defined, current statistics, and available resources for helping survivors recover from its effects.