Women Veterans Health Care
Women Veterans Health Care has created materials to raise awareness of sexual trauma and resources for treatment.
Effects of Sexual Trauma
One in five women in the United States reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2012 study* 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 threatening sexual harassment during military service as military sexual trauma (MST). Approximately one out of three women who visits VA facilities tells their VA health care provider they experienced sexual trauma in the military. To help individuals recover from MST, VA provides free care for related physical and mental health conditions. Individuals 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. 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 VA's MST internet site.
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.
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.