Military sexual trauma (MST)
Military sexual trauma (MST) refers to sexual assault or sexual harassment experienced during military service. Former Service Members and Veterans of all genders and from all types of backgrounds have experienced MST.
Both women and men can experience sexual harassment or sexual assault during their military service. VA refers to these experiences as military sexual trauma, or MST. One in five female Veterans and 1 in 100 male Veterans have told their VA health care provider that they experienced MST.
MST also occurs any time the survivor isn’t able to give consent, such as while intoxicated or drugged, or when they are pressured into giving consent in exchange for promises of favorable duties or promotion, or threats of harm to their career. The perpetrator needs to be in the military for it to be considered MST.
Like other types of trauma, MST can negatively impact a person's mental and physical health, even many years later.
Connect with a MST Coordinator
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.
Jackson VA Health Care System has designated MST coordinators who serve as a contact person for MST-related issues. This person is your advocate and can help you find and access VA services and programs and community resources.
Stories of Recovery
Visit this site to view stories from Veterans who have overcome mental health challenges, including those related to MST. Make the Connection is a one-stop resource where Veterans and their families and friends can explore information on mental health issues, hear fellow Veterans and their families share stories of resilience, and access the support and resources they need.
“I made it!”: Massachusetts Veteran with PTSD turns his life around
Rich Adams was sexually assaulted while in the Navy and retreated into a life of shame and anger. Treatment has turned his life around dramatically.
The ‘Invisible Monster’: A Homeless Female Veteran’s Journey to Take Back Her Life from PTSD
Casondra Williams struggled after experiencing MST during her service. It took courage for her to reach out for help from the VA, but doing so has helped her take her life back.
When a Victim Becomes a Victor: This Navy Veteran Stands on His Story of Military Sexual Assault
Navy Veteran Timothy Jones shares his story of coming forward and recovering from MST, and the courageous steps he took to accept assistance from VA homelessness and mental health programs along the way.
She Wears the Boots: A Podcast for Women Veterans
The Office of Women’s Health “She Wears the Boots” podcast series includes an episode on Military Sexual Trauma which overviews definitions and impacts of MST as well as resources for those who have experienced it. The Beyond MST mobile app is highlighted as a specific resource for MST survivors.
VHA Homeless Programs: Ending Veteran Homelessness
On the episode Supporting Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma, guests share what the research says about how MST impacts survivors, how advocacy and seeking justice can support recovery, and what VA is doing to help.
Learn more about the Beyond MST Mobile App
Free, secure and private self-help mobile app created specifically to support the health and well-being of survivors of MST. The app has over 30 specialized tools and other features to help MST survivors cope with challenges, manage symptoms, improve their quality of life and find hope. Users do not need to create an account or be in treatment to use the app. Any personal information entered in the app is not shared with anyone, including the VA.