VA Connecticut Healthcare System
Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term VA uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurred while the veteran was in the military. It includes any sexual activity where someone is involved against his or her will – he or she may have been pressured into sexual activities (for example, with threats of negative consequences for refusing to be sexually cooperative or with implied faster promotions or better treatment in exchange for sex), may have been unable to consent to sexual activities (for example, when intoxicated), or may have been physically forced into sexual activities.
Other experiences that fall into the category of MST include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing; threatening, offensive remarks about a person’s body or sexual activities; and/or threatening or unwelcome sexual advances.
Both women and men can experience MST during their service. All veterans seen at VA facilities are asked about experiences of sexual trauma because we know that any type of trauma can affect a person’s physical and mental health, even many years later. We also know that people can recover from trauma.
VA has free services to help Veterans do this. You do not need to have a VA disability rating (be "service connected") to receive these services and may be able to receive services 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.
Jason DeViva, Ph.D. is the Military Sexual Trauma coordinator. He can be reached at 203-932-5711 ext. 2722.