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Military Sexual Trauma care

Southern Arizona VA 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).

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Lauren Suarez Ph.D.

Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator

VA Southern Arizona health care



What is Military Sexual Trauma?

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

More concretely, MST includes any unwanted or nonconsensual sexual activity. Examples include:

  • Being pressured into sexual activities, such as threats of negative treatment for refusal or promises of better treatment in exchange for sex.
  • Sexual contact or activities without your consent, including while sleeping or intoxicated.
  • Being overpowered or physically forced to have sex.
  • Being touched or grabbed in a sexual way that made you uncomfortable, including during hazing experiences.
  • Threatening comments about your body or sexual activities.
  • Threatening or unwanted sexual advances.

All on- or off-duty and on- or off-base experiences of sexual assault or harassment are considered to be MSTs.

How do I access Southern Arizona VA Health Care System's MST-related services

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 a 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 Southern Arizona VA Health Care 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 24/7. 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 or other benefits from the 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 MST outreach coordinator at your nearest Veterans Benefits Administration office can explain more.

Find your nearest regional office

Or get help applying for disability compensation by:

Where can I find more information and support?

  • Go to our VA mental health website to download MST resources as well as the self-help “Beyond MST” app. 
    Learn more about MST and VA's services
  • Watch this video to learn about MST, its effects on survivors and VA services available to assist in recovery.
    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 Safe Helpline website. It's a crisis support service for members of the DOD community affected by sexual assault. The Safe Helpline does not require a name and offers 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.