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Women Veterans Health Care

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Health Awareness Campaigns: Sexual Trauma

Sexual Trauma

Women Veterans Health Care has created materials to raise awareness of sexual trauma and resources for treatment.

Thumbnail image of sexual trauma awareness poster: Sexual trauma can make you sick.

Sexual Trauma Awareness Poster
(1.16 MB, PDF)
Number: IB 10-320SM
Dimensions: 8.5" x 11"

Sexual Trauma Awareness Poster
(1.01 MB, PDF)
Number: IB 10-320LG
Dimensions: 11" x 17"


Effects of Sexual Trauma

Citing a 2000 study,* the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes: one in six women in the United States reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives.

Sexual violence, or sexual trauma, can have a profound impact on a victim’s physical and mental health. It is associated with an increased risk of a range of sexual and reproductive health problems and can lead to other long-term health problems, including chronic pain, headaches, and stomach problems. Victims of sexual trauma are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or engage in risky sexual behavior. In some cases, anger and stress stemming from such abuse trigger eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. Learn more from the CDC.*

Military Sexual Trauma

VA refers to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment during military service as military sexual trauma (MST). Approximately one out of five women who visits VA facilities tells their VA health care provider they experienced sexual trauma in the military. To help Veterans recover from MST, VA provides free care for related physical and mental health conditions. Veterans do not need to have a service-connected VA disability rating; they may be able to receive MST care even if they are not eligible for other VA care. Learn more about treatment for MST.

Every VA facility has a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. This person can help Veterans find and access VA services and programs, state and federal benefits, and community resources. Every VA facility also has providers knowledgeable about treatment for the effects of MST. For more information about services available, Veterans can speak with their existing VA health care provider, contact the MST Coordinator at their nearest VA Medical Center, or contact their local Vet Center. Learn more from the National Center for PTSD (196.7 KB, PDF).

About Women Veterans

Women are now the fastest growing subgroup of U.S. Veterans. The number of women Veterans is expected to increase dramatically in the next 10 years, and VA health care is expected to be in high demand by the women Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Department of Veterans Affairs understands the health care needs of Women Veterans and is committed to meeting these needs. Women Veterans served and they deserve the best quality care. Learn more about VA health care services for women Veterans.

Other Reference

Kimerling, R., Gima, K., Smith, M. W., Street, A., & Frayne, S. (2007). The Veterans Health Administration and military sexual trauma. American Journal of Public Health, 97(12), 2160-2166.



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*By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.