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Military sexual trauma and disability compensation

If you experienced military sexual trauma (MST) and it caused or worsened a health condition, you may be eligible for disability compensation. Find out how to file a disability claim. And learn how we can support you during the claims process. 

When to file a disability claim related to 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 have a mental or physical health condition that’s related to MST, we encourage you to file a claim for disability compensation.

If you previously filed a claim related to MST and we denied it, we encourage you to request a decision review. We’ll review your claim again using a new process.

If you’re not sure what types of experiences MST includes, you can read some examples here:

Examples of MST

MST can include these types of experiences:

  • Being pressured or coerced to have sex
  • Being physically forced to have sex
  • Being touched in a sexual way that made you uncomfortable
  • Sexual contact without your consent, such as when you were asleep or intoxicated
  • Comments about your body or sexual activities that you found threatening
  • Sexual advances that you found threatening

If this is the first time you’re filing a claim for this condition

You can file a claim online, by mail, in person, or with the help of a trained professional. 

Learn more about how to file a claim

You can also contact a Veterans Benefits Administration MST outreach coordinator at your local VA regional office. Every regional office has a male coordinator and a female coordinator who can help you file an MST-related claim. They can also help you get support for other MST-related benefits and services.

Find a Veterans Benefits Administration MST outreach coordinator 

If you previously filed a claim related to MST and we denied it

We encourage you to request a decision review.

We’ve changed how we process claims related to MST. We’ve improved the specialized training for claim processors. 

If you’d like to request a decision review, contact a Veterans Benefits Administration MST outreach coordinator at your local VA regional office. 

Find a Veterans Benefits Administration MST outreach coordinator

Learn more about requesting a decision review

Evidence we’ll need for your claim

You can submit these types of evidence to support your claim:

  • Service Treatment Records (STR) or Military Personnel Records (MPR) that document MST 
  • Defense Department (DOD) reporting forms on sexual assault or harassment 
  • Investigative reports into MST during military service 

For claims for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to MST

You can also submit other types of direct or indirect evidence.

Direct evidence

We accept statements or records from sources like these:

  • Chaplains or clergy members
  • Counseling, health, or military training facilities
  • Family members, roommates, or fellow service members
  • Rape crisis centers or centers for domestic violence assistance

We also accept reports like these:

  • Civilian police reports
  • Medical reports from civilian providers or caregivers who treated you at any time after the MST
  • Personal diaries or journals

Indirect evidence

If you don’t have direct evidence, you can submit indirect evidence of changes in your life or your behavior after the MST. The evidence doesn’t need to show a clear cause. 

You can submit evidence that shows these types of changes:

  • Changes in work performance
  • Changes in eating or weight 
  • Relationship issues, like divorce
  • Problems with sexual function
  • Substance use problems
  • Unexplained social or financial decisions or problems 

You can submit evidence that shows symptoms like these:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling disconnected from others
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Uncontrollable worries

You can also submit these types of evidence:

    • Pregnancy test results
    • Requests for transfer to another military duty assignment
    • Tests for sexually transmitted infections 
    • Appointments at a health or counseling facility without a specific diagnosis or health condition
    • Treatment for physical injuries around the time of the MST, regardless of whether they were reported as a result of the MST

    How to get other types of support for MST-related benefits and services

    We want to support you during the claims process. And we’ll continue to support you whether or not you file a claim.

    Support for the claim exam

    When you file your claim, we may ask you to have a claim exam (also known as a compensation and pension, or C&P, exam). During the exam, a provider may talk with you about how your experience affected you. They may gather details about your experience to help us make a decision on your claim.

    You can request a male or female provider for a claim exam. 

    Learn more about claim exams

    Free treatment for conditions related to MST

    If you’re having difficulties related to MST, we’re here to support you. We provide free treatment for any mental or physical 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. And you may be able to get MST-related care even if you aren’t eligible for other VA services. 

    Every VA medical facility has a Veterans Health Administration MST coordinator who can help you access care. 

    Find a Veterans Health Administration MST coordinator

    Learn more about MST-related care

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