VA Central Iowa Health Care System
Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) refers to experiences of any unwanted sexual attention, uninvited sexual advances, or forced sex while in the military. Both women and men can experience sexual harassment or sexual assault during their military service. Sexual assault and sexual harassment are traumatic events. Like other types of trauma, MST can negatively impact a person’s mental and physical health even many years later. Some common problems associated with MST include:
- Disturbing memories or nightmares
- Difficulty feeling safe
- Feelings of depression or numbness
- Problems with alcohol or other drugs
- Feeling isolated from other people
- Problems with anger or irritability
- Problems with sleep
- Physical health problems
While sexual assault and harassment can have a profound effect, healing is possible. If experiences of sexual harassment or sexual assault continue to affect your life today, the Central Iowa VA Health Care System has special services available that can help. People can recover from trauma. Those who seek support tend to recover faster and more completely.
To help veterans do this, the VA provides free, confidential treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to experiences of MST. You do not need to have a VA disability rating (be “service connected”) and may be able to receive treatment even if you are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported the incident(s) when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred.
What services are available from the Central Iowa VAHCS?
- At Central Iowa VAHCS there is a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. This person is your advocate to help you find and access VA services and programs, state and federal benefits, and available community resources that may be helpful. For instance, your local Vet Centers also have specially trained sexual trauma counselors.
- Every VA healthcare facility has providers knowledgeable about treatment for the aftereffects of MST. There are also specialized outpatient mental health services focusing on sexual trauma. Nationwide, there are programs that offer specialized sexual trauma treatment in residential or inpatient settings. These are programs for Veterans who need more intense treatment and support.
- If you experience difficulty in mixed-gender treatment settings, we will make every effort to help you feel comfortable and separate programs for men and women are available.
- Feel free to ask to meet with a provider of a certain gender if it would add to your comfort and we will make every effort to accommodate this need.
Service Connection or disability compensation is not required to receive free treatment for condtions resulting from MST. How can I get this help?
- Speak with your existing VA healthcare provider
- Contact the MST Coordinator at your local VA Medical Center by calling the MST Coordinator directly at 515-699-5677.
- A list of VA facilities and locations can be found online at www.va.gov
More information about MST is available at:
Women Veteran's and MST: www.publichealth.va.gov/womenshealth/trauma.asp
VACIHCS, Des Moines Campus
Hours of Operation
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.