Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is sexual assault or trauma experienced by military personnel during any period of service. Sexual trauma is unwanted sexual advances, harassment, touching, grabbing, threatening and unwanted advances. MST is usually accompanied by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more commonly occurs in female soldiers. 1 in 5 females experience sexual trauma in the military.
Women military personnel face several unique challenges and often feel propelled to go above and beyond to prove their commitment and abilities. Even today in the millennium, the military still acknowledges male soldiers achievements, advancements, and promotions more frequently than with women. The comradery that exists between male soldiers is strong and ultimately make it difficult for women to compete or attend to serious needs. See video on military rape and Congress’ charge of cover up.
For this reason sexual harassment, assault, and rape goes unreported. When women personnel do report these incidences it is often brushed under the rug and tarnishes the females reputation and career – which is why many do not seek further help and tend to cover up the trauma that occurs mentally and emotionally after in incidenct.
Female soldiers who experience MST should know that as difficult as it is, in or outside of the military, you will likely suffer at least mild if not severe symptoms to include:
- Nightmares/night terrors
Please report incidences, as difficult and frustrating as it maybe, even if you simply report it to a doctor. This ensures some record of the incidence exists. Especially during your ETS exit interview please answer any questions ” related to sexual trauma you experienced during service?” honestly. There is certainly no need to hide it at that point since you will be exiting the military. Any service member who is sexually traumatized during service is eligible for counseling regardless of gender. The Veteran’s Administration offers medical services to all women regardless of discharge status or disability rating. Most soldiers suffering from MST and PTSD qualify for a VA disability rating of at least 10% of their earnings, if not more.
Charleston and surrounding are residents should contact the Ralph H. Johnson VA at 843-577-5011 to set up an appointment. Columbia residents please call or visit Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorm VAMC website 803-776-4000.
Many cities also have a Disabled American Veteran’s center (DAV) that provides group counseling, classes, and individual counseling at no cost to Veteran’s. NSOs function as attorneys-in-fact, assisting veterans and their families in filing claims for VA disability compensation and pension; vocational rehabilitation and employment; education; home loan guaranty; life insurance; death benefits; health care and much more. They provide free services, such as information seminars, counseling and community outreach. NSOs also represent veterans and active duty military personnel before Discharge Review Boards, Boards for Correction of Military Records, Physical Evaluation Boards and other official panels. Columbia and surrounding residents may visit or contact the nearest DAV at: VARO, Suite 1129. Visit the website for more details and information about services available for veterans and active military here: Disabled American Veteran.
6437 Garners Ferry Rd..
Columbia, SC 29209
Send an email
To find out how you can show your support for America’s brave warriors, please visit the Wounded Warriors on USO’s website.