Military Sexual Trauma

Rape, being sexual coerced, battery of a sexual nature, repeated, threatening acts of sexual harassment are all types of sexual trauma.  Unwelcomed sexual advances causing emotional trauma can be experienced by people in the military as well as in civilian life.  Military Sexual Trauma, or MTS, is defined as “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty for training.” 

It’s hard to know how often it happens.  The figures the VA uses are approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 100 men screened for MST respond affirmatively when asked if they have experienced MST while serving.  The rates for sexual trauma in women in the military are only slightly higher than men given the disproportionate ratio of men to women serving.

The larger issue is how it affects the person who has experienced it.  Sometimes, as in civilian life, it can follow the victim for years.  The result of sexual trauma may include the following:

  • Depression, anger and irritability
  • Numbness
  • Sleep difficulties such as falling or staying asleep, nightmares
  • Addictions
  • Flashbacks
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Physical symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also result from MST.  The extreme stress caused by trauma overwhelms the ability to cope.   Trauma can result in overeating, substance abuse, or even suicide.

 The VA has services to help Veterans who have experienced MST.  Each VA facility has a designated MST Coordinator who can help Veterans locate and access VA services and programs.  Many VA facilities have specialized outpatient mental health services focusing on sexual trauma.  Some of these facilities are offering separate programs for men and women.  Veterans do not need to have a VA disability rating to receive free, confidential counseling and treatment for MST related mental and physical health conditions.  They also do not need to have reported the incident when it happened or have other documentation that it occurred.

Again, the good news is that while trauma can affect anyone, healing is possible for everyone!   For more information, contact your MST Coordinator at the nearest VA Medical Center or your local Vet Center.  You may also call the VA’s general information hotline at 1-800-827-1000.

Why Hire a Veteran?

This week Disability Network/Lakeshore out of Holland, MI is hosting an Employment Event.  The focus is on hiring veterans and the benefits employers receive when they hire veterans.  Capt. Benjamin Jones has listed the top 10 reasons for hiring veterans…

1.  Accelerated Learning Curve – 

Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts. In addition, they can enter your workforce with identifiable and transferable skills, proven in real world situations. This background can enhance your organization’s productivity.

2.  Leadership
The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration. Veterans understand the practical ways to manage behaviors for results, even in the most trying circumstances. They also know the dynamics of leadership as part of both hierarchical and peer structures. …..    

3.  Teamwork
Veterans understand how genuine teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one’s colleagues. Military duties involve a blend of individual and group productivity. They also necessitate a perception of how groups of all sizes relate to each other and an overarching objective.

4.  Diversity and Inclusion in Action
Veterans have learned to work side by side with individuals regardless of diverse race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion and economic status as well as mental, physical and attitudinal capabilities. They have the sensitivity to cooperate with many different types of individuals.

5.  Efficient performance under pressure
Veterans understand the rigors of tight schedules and limited resources. They have developed the capacity to know how to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress. They know the critical importance of staying with a task until it is done right.

6.  Respect for procedures
Veterans have gained a unique perspective on the value of accountability. They can grasp their place within an organizational framework, becoming responsible for subordinates’ actions to higher supervisory levels. They know how policies and procedures enable an organization to exist.

7.  Technology and globalization
Because of their experiences in the service, veterans are usually aware of international and technical trends pertinent to business and industry. They can bring the kind of global outlook and technological savvy that all enterprises of any size need to succeed.

8.  Integrity
Veterans know what it means to do “an honest day’s work.” Prospective employers can take advantage of a track record of integrity, often including security clearances. This integrity translates into qualities of sincerity and trustworthiness.

9.  Conscious of health and safety standards
Thanks to extensive training, veterans are aware of health and safety protocols both for themselves and the welfare of others. Individually, they represent a drug-free workforce that is cognizant of maintaining personal health and fitness. On a company level, their awareness and conscientiousness translate into protection of employees, property and materials.

10. Triumph over adversity

In addition to dealing positively with the typical issues of personal maturity, veterans have frequently triumphed over great adversity. They likely have proven their mettle in mission critical situations demanding endurance, stamina and flexibility. They may have overcome personal disabilities through strengths and determination.