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Military sexual trauma care

VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System providers receive training in clinical care that is responsive to the needs of Veterans who have a history of military sexual trauma (MST). MST refers to sexual assault or sexual harassment which occurred during military service.

Connect with our MST coordinator 

Alexa Saunders, Psy.D.

PTSD Clinic Psychologist

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Coordinator

4101 Woolworth Ave. Omaha, NE 68105| office: 402-995-3490

Send a secure message to: NWI-Omaha Military Sexual Trauma_ Admin



Shirley Petersen, LICSW, LADC 

Grand Island VA Medical Center  


What is military sexual trauma (MST)?

Military sexual trauma, or MST, is the term used by VA to refer to experiences of sexual assault or sexual harassment experienced during military service.

More concretely, MST includes any sexual activity that you are involved with against your will. Examples include:

  • Being pressured into sexual activities (such as with threats of negative treatment if you refuse to cooperate or promises of better treatment in exchange for sex)
  • Sexual contact or activities without your consent, including when you were asleep or intoxicated
  • Being overpowered or physically forces to have sex
  • Being touched or grabbed in a sexual way that made you uncomfortable, including during hazing experiences
  • Comments about your body or sexual activities that you found threatening
  • Unwanted sexual advances that you found threatening

The identity or characteristics of the perpetrator, whether you were on or off duty at the time, and whether you were on or off base at the time do not matter.

How do I access VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care Systems' MS-related services?

The Veterans Health Administration has outpatient, inpatient, and residential services available to assist in recovery from MST. This includes care for both mental and physical health conditions. 

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 the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa System 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
  • Learn more about the process of filing a disability claim related to MST including accepted evidence and support during the process.

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.