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Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center, Saginaw, Michigan


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Words that read Sexual Assault Awareness Month VA Cares About Military Sexual Trauma
Monday, April 1, 2013

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men have told their VA provider they have experienced sexual assault or repeated, threatening, sexual harassment while in the military.


Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term VA uses to refer to sexual assault or sexual harassment which occurred while a 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 and unwelcome sexual advances

MST can affect a person’s mental and physical health, even many years later. 
Some of the difficulties both female and male survivors of MST may have include:

Strong emotions: feeling depressed; having intense, sudden emotional reactions to things; feeling angry or irritable all the time

Feelings of numbness: feeling emotionally "flat"; difficulty experiencing emotions like love or happiness

Trouble sleeping: trouble falling or staying asleep; disturbing nightmares

Difficulties with attention, concentration, and memory: trouble staying focused; frequently finding their mind wandering; having a hard time remembering things

Problems with alcohol or other drugs: drinking to excess or using drugs daily; getting intoxicated or “high” to cope with memories or emotional reactions; drinking to fall asleep

Difficulty with things that remind them of their experiences of sexual trauma: feeling on edge or ‘jumpy’ all the time; difficulty feeling safe; going out of their way to avoid reminders of their experiences

Difficulties in relationships: feeling isolated or disconnected from others; abusive relationships; difficulty with intimacy and trust; trouble with employers or authority figures

Physical health problems: sexual difficulties; chronic pain; weight or eating problems; gastrointestinal problems


Both women and men can experience MST during their service. All Veterans seen at Veterans Health Administration 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. We also know that people can recover. VA has services to help Veterans do this. The VA provides free, confidential counseling and treatment to male and female Veterans for problems related to experiences of MST. You do not need to be service connected and may be able to receive this benefit even if you are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported the incident when it happened or have other documentation that it occurred.


For more information, Veterans can speak with their existing VA healthcare provider or contact our MST Coordinator, Pam Lawrence, 989 497-2500, Extension 15713.

Veterans can also call VA's general information hotline at 1-800-827-1000 or visit

People can recover from experiences of trauma. Please speak with us to learn more.


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