OIG Seal
Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General
Michael J. Missal, Inspector General

Report Summary

Title: Healthcare Inspection - Inpatient and Residential Programs for Female Veterans with Mental Health Conditions Related to Military Sexual Trauma
Report Number: 12-03399-54 Download
Issue Date: 12/5/2012
VA Office: Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Report Author: Office of Healthcare Inspections
Report Type: Healthcare Inspections
Release Type: Unrestricted

We conducted this inspection at the request of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee. We reviewed mental health services provided to 166 women with a history of military sexual trauma (MST) treated at 14 residential and inpatient programs identified by the VHA military sexual trauma support team website as resources for women veterans. We reviewed patient medical records, VHA policy, and program self-assessments, and conducted on-site visits at eight programs.

We found that patients were complex with often more than one mental health diagnosis. Ninety percent had received VHA mental health care within 3 months of program admission, and largely from a female mental health provider. The programs reviewed provided evidenced-based psychotherapy techniques, gender-specific care, and same gender therapists. Women were often admitted to programs outside their Veterans Integrated Service Network. Obtaining authorization for travel funding was frequently cited as a problem for patients and staff. We found that current VHA travel policy is not aligned with MST policy. We recommended that the Under Secretary for Health review existing VHA policy pertaining to authorization of travel for veterans seeking MST related mental health treatment at specialized inpatient/residential programs outside of the facilities where they are enrolled.