Military sexual trauma (MST)
Military sexual trauma (MST) refers to sexual assault or sexual harassment experienced during military service. Veterans of all genders and from all types of backgrounds have experienced MST.
If you're having difficulties related to MST, we're here to support you in whatever way will help you best. We can help you learn more about how MST affects people. We can provide treatment that helps you cope with how MST is impacting your life. Or if you'd prefer, we can provide treatment that involves discussing your experiences in more depth.
How do I talk to someone right now?
If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, connect with our caring, qualified Veterans Crisis Line responders for confidential help. Many of them are Veterans themselves. This service is private, free, and available 24/7.
To connect with a Veterans Crisis Line responder anytime day or night:
- Call 988.
- Text 838255.
- Start a confidential chat.
- If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 800-799-4889.
You can also:
- Call 911.
- Go to the nearest emergency room.
- Go directly to your nearest VA medical center. It doesn’t matter what your discharge status is or if you’re enrolled in VA health care.
Find your nearest VA medical center
What services does VA provide related to MST?
We provide free treatment for any physical or mental health conditions related to your experiences of MST. You don't need documentation of the MST experiences or a VA disability rating to get care.
Our services include:
- MST coordinator at every VA medical facility to serve as a contact person for MST-related issues and who can assist you in accessing care
- MST-related outpatient services at every VA medical center and many VA community-based outpatient clinics
- Mental health services, including psychological assessment and evaluation, medication evaluation and treatment, and individual and group psychotherapy for mental health conditions associated with MST, like:
- MST-related outpatient counseling through VA’s community-based Vet Centers
- MST-related treatment in VA’s residential (live-in) or inpatient programs for individuals who need more intensive treatment and support
A note on who can receive these services
We refer to “Veterans” on this page. But these groups can also receive care related to experiences of MST:
- Most former service members with an Other Than Honorable or uncharacterized (entry-level) discharge
- Former National Guard and Reserve members with federal active-duty service or a service-connected disability who were discharged under honorable conditions or with an Other Than Honorable discharge. The service-connected disability doesn't need to be related to your experiences of MST.
- Current service members. We may require a Department of Defense referral for some types of services.
For more information, please contact your nearest VA medical center and ask to speak to the MST coordinator.
How do I access VA’s MST-related services?
To receive MST-related care, you don’t need to have reported the MST at the time or have other proof that the MST happened. Veterans don't need to have a service-connected disability rating, and you may be able to get MST-related care even if you aren’t eligible for other VA services.
Here’s how to access VA's MST-related services:
- If you have a VA health care provider, consider telling that person that you experienced MST. All VA primary care and mental health providers complete training on MST and the treatment needs of people who've experienced it. Your provider can offer treatment referrals and support as needed.
- Call 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.
Find a VA medical center near you
- Contact a Vet Center and ask to speak with someone about MST-related counseling.
Find a Vet Center near you
- If you’re homeless or at risk of becoming homeless:
- Contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 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.
- Visit our website to learn about VA programs for Veterans who are homeless.
Learn about our homelessness programs
- 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 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?
Veterans can receive compensation for conditions that started or got worse in the line of duty. This includes injuries or disabilities related to MST. If you have questions, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) MST outreach coordinator at your nearest regional office can explain more.
Find your nearest regional office
Or get help applying for disability compensation by:
- Reading our fact sheet to learn about disability compensation for conditions related to MST.
Read the MST fact sheet (PDF)
- Talking to an MST outreach coordinator at your nearest VA regional office. You can ask to talk to a female or male coordinator.
Find an MST outreach coordinator near you
Where can I find more information and support?
- Go to our VA mental health website to download MST brochures and fact sheets as well as the self-help “Beyond MST” app. You can also learn more about our programs and services.
Learn more about MST and VA's services
- Play a video about MST, its effects on survivors, and VA services available to assist in recovery from MST.
Play the video (YouTube)
- Go to the Make the Connection website to hear stories from Veterans about their recovery from MST, and find more resources and support.
Go to the Make the Connection website
- If you're a current service member, please consider visiting 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 don't have to give your name and can remain anonymous. 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.