Author Affiliation

Department of Social Work, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Document Type

Policy Advocacy Brief

Publication Date


Issue Statement/Executive Summary

Military Sexual Trauma (MST), is defined as sexual assault and/or sexual harassment experienced while serving in the United States military. The process of obtaining Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits are difficult for individuals that suffer from MST. MST survivors are faced with delays and numerous barriers in accessing services, including discrimination in seeking compensation. Statistical data from the Department of Defense (DOD) is reviewed highlighting the high rates of sexual assault in the military and addresses concerns about the long-term implications for survivors of MST.

Many female veteran survivors of MST are struggling to access needed services covered by the VA. Policy recommendations are provided for addressing the unique needs related to survivors of MST, helps to under-stand how female veterans interact with the current VA system, and identifies areas for improvement. These are significant findings for policy makers and veteran advocates concerned about the prevalence of MST.

Legislative reform recommendations include enacting the Ruth Moore Act to effectively and efficiently address the unique needs of female veterans who experience MST and the barriers they face in accessing VA services and benefits. Encouraging the VA to adapt policies that create a safer and more supportive environment for survivors of MST is also recommended.


Social Work



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