To the extent that conversations about military sexual trauma, at least online, shed little light and often a fair amount of heat, it seems wise to create some sort of primer about what military sexual trauma is and isn’t, who it happens to, and a few other crucial factors.
The cumbersome phrasing, “Military Sexual Trauma” (MST), is codified wording in use by both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). At its core, it refers to the entire spectrum of incidents from sexual harassment through sexual assault and rape, including gang rape, that happens in the military. It’s important to note that it isn’t its own diagnosis, per se, with VA; so veterans who disclose to VA that they are MST survivors — and VA screens for that — have it noted in their medical charts but the actual diagnosis is for what MST leads to, for example, frequently Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Confused already? We understand.
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