Support MST Survivors on Their Path Toward Healing
With the message “We believe you, and we believe in you,” the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to survivors and their families, friends and supporters throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April.
“Military sexual trauma,” or MST, is the term VA uses to refer to sexual assault or sexual harassment that occurred during military service. Healing after MST can take time; for some survivors, the experience affects their physical and mental health, work, relationships and everyday life, even many years later. And everyone can play an important role in helping MST survivors navigate their individual path toward healing, no matter how long it’s been since they experienced MST or how it’s affecting them now.
MST affects more people than you may think. MST survivors of all ages, races, gender identities, sexual orientations and service branches have received compassionate care through VA and local facilities like the Sioux Falls VA Health Care System. There are more VA resources available for survivors of MST than ever before, including the Beyond MST app. In addition, the Sioux Falls VA offers free counseling and treatment to Veterans and former service members for any mental or physical health condition related to their experience of MST.
Because everyone is unique, the Sioux Falls VA offers flexible treatment options tailored to meet each MST survivor’s needs and preferences. Eligibility for MST-related care is expansive, and no documentation of the MST experience is required. Survivors do not need to have reported the MST experience at the time it occurred, to have sought care within a certain time frame or to have applied for service connection to receive this care.
To learn about MST and how you can connect survivors with services to help them heal, visit www.MentalHealth.va.gov/SAAM, where you’ll find resources and materials you can explore and share with others. By learning more about this topic and spreading the word, you can help MST survivors move forward on their healing journey.
If you or someone you know experienced MST and is interested in learning more, contact your local VA medical center and ask to speak with the MST Coordinator, a professional who specializes in connecting survivors with the care and services that are right for them.
VA believes in MST survivors, and we believe your support and ours can help them heal.