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Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

Did you experience any unwanted sexual attention, uninvited sexual advances, or forced sex while in the military? Does this experience continue to affect your life today?

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 healthcare 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.

Some problems associated with MST include:

• Disturbing memories or nightmares
• Feelings of depression or numbness
• Problems with alcohol or drugs
• Feeling isolated from other people
• Problems with anger or irritability
• Problems with sleep
• Physical health problems
• Avoidance or fear of medical exams or procedures

VA has special services available to help men and women who have experienced MST.

Healing from sexual trauma is possible. People can heal from trauma. To help Veterans do this, VA provides treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to experiences of MST. You do not need to be service connected and may be able to receive this benefit event if you are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported the incidents when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred.

SERVICES AVAILABLE

SFVAMC  has a designated MST Coordinator who serves 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.

Van Zyl headshot

Maryke Van Zyl PhD

Acting MST Coordinator

VA San Francisco health care

Phone: 415-758-8721

Email: maryke.harrison2@va.gov

SFVAMC has providers knowledgeable about treatment for the after-effects of MST. We offer specialized outpatient mental health services focusing on sexual trauma. VA Vet Centers also have specially trained sexual trauma counselors.

Each Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) has a designated MST contact person. Patients are welcome to call their clinic and ask to speak with the appropriate staff person listed below:

Clearlake Clinic - 415-221-4810 ext. 24035,  Heather Raitz, LCSW (Acting)

Downtown Clinic415-281-5100, Alison May, MD

Eureka Clinic707-269-2827, Forest Harpham, LCSW

San Bruno Clinic - 650-615-6030, Anne French, LCSW

Santa Rosa Clinic707-569-2300, Monica Sanchez, PhD

Ukiah Clinic - 707-468-7735, Andrea (Annie) Richmond, LCSW 

Oakland Clinic - 510-587-3412, Damon Johnson, LCSW and 650-455-8490, Nicole Ward, PhD

The Veterans Crisis Line is 800-273-8255 and press 1.

For urgent needs, patients may be seen in the SFVAMC Emergency Department (always open).

For information about Mental Health treatment, please call  the Psychiatric Evaluation Services at 415-221-4810, ext. 2-6674. (Service connection or disability compensation is not required to receive free treatment for conditions resulting from MST.)