San Francisco VA Health Care System
Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
Did you experience any unwanted sexual attention, uninvited sexual advances, or forced sex while in the military? Does this experience continue to affect your life today?
Both women and men can experience sexual harassment or sexual assault during their military service. VA refers to these experiences as military sexual trauma, or MST. One in five female Veterans and 1 in 100 male Veterans have told their VA healthcare provider that they experienced MST.
MST also occurs any time the survivor isn’t able to give consent, such as while intoxicated or drugged, or when they are pressured into giving consent in exchange for promises of favorable duties or promotion, or threats of harm to their career. The perpetrator needs to be in the military for it to be considered MST.
Like other types of trauma, MST can negatively impact a person's mental and physical health, even many years later.
Some problems associated with MST include:
• Disturbing memories or nightmares
• Feelings of depression or numbness
• Problems with alcohol or drugs
• Feeling isolated from other people
• Problems with anger or irritability
• Problems with sleep
• Physical health problems
• Avoidance or fear of medical exams or procedures
VA has special services available to help men and women who have experienced MST.
Healing from sexual trauma is possible. People can heal from trauma. To help Veterans do this, VA provides treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to experiences of MST. You do not need to be service connected and may be able to receive this benefit event if you are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported the incidents when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred.
SFVAMC has a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. This person is your advocate and can help you find and access VA services and programs and community resources.
Danette Barnett, MSW
(415) 221-4810, ext. 2-6038
SFVAMC has providers knowledgeable about treatment for the after-effects of MST. We offer specialized outpatient mental health services focusing on sexual trauma. VA Vet Centers also have specially trained sexual trauma counselors.
Each Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) has a designated MST contact person. Patients are welcome to call their clinic and ask to speak with the appropriate staff person listed below:
Clearlake Clinic - (707) 995-7200, Barbara Harrold, LMFT
Downtown Clinic - (415) 281-5100, Alison May, MD
Eureka Clinic - (707) 269-2827, Forest Harpham, LCSW
San Bruno Clinic - (650) 615-6030, Anne French, LCSW
Santa Rosa Clinic - (707) 569-2502, Cathy Read, LCSW
Ukiah Clinic - (707) 468-7700, Cheri Lynn Heffel, NP
The Veterans Crisis Line is (800) 273-8255.
For urgent needs, patients may be seen in the SFVAMC Emergency Department (always open).
For information about Mental Health treatment, please call the Psychiatric Evaluation Services at (415) 221-4810, ext. 2-6674. (Service connection or disability compensation is not required to receive free treatment for conditions resulting from MST.)
Evidence based PTSD treatments are offered at the VA. Examples of two types of treatment include Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure, which require the Veteran to write or talk in detail about their trauma. For more information click here.
1st Floor, Room 117
- 415-221-4810 Ext. 2-6038
Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.