Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual observance in April to raise public awareness about sexual assault. VA’s SAAM campaign focuses on sexual assault and sexual harassment occurring during military service – also known as military sexual trauma or MST. This year’s theme across VA is Creating Pathways to Healing: VA’s Services for Military Sexual Trauma Survivors.
VA chose this theme to highlight the many ways for Veterans to recover from sexual trauma, as well as the role of VA’s programs and services in helping Veterans find the paths to healing that are right for them. As Ashley Casto, Ph.D., who serves as the MST Coordinator at the Lexington VAMC, explains: “We need to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, and it’s important to highlight the multitude of holistic and recovery-based treatments that are available through the VA.”
VA’s free MST resources
VA offers a wide range of services, free of charge, to support Veterans recovering from physical or mental health conditions related to their experiences of MST. No documentation of MST experiences is required, and Veterans may be eligible for free MST-related care even if they are not eligible for other VA services. In addition, every VA health care system has an MST Coordinator who serves as a point person for MST-related issues at the facility and can help Veterans access relevant VA services and programs.
Sarah Raymond, Ph.D., is the MST Coordinator at the Richmond VAMC. “Veterans may not always be ready for mental health treatment,”