(Syracuse, NY) The Syracuse VA has special services available to help women who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST). People can recover from trauma. To help veterans do this, VA provides free, confidential counseling and 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 even 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. Every VA facility 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, state and federal benefits, and community resources. Every VA facility has providers knowledgeable about treatment for the aftereffects of MST. Many have specialized outpatient mental health services focusing on sexual trauma. Vet Centers also have specially trained sexual trauma counselors. Nationwide, there are programs that offer specialized sexual trauma treatment in residential or inpatient settings.

Dr. Janice Creamer is Military Sexual Trauma coordinator at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. She says 20 out of 100 victims of sexual trauma in the military who report to the Syracuse VA are women; one in every 100 is a man.

There are programs for veterans who need more intense treatment and support. To accommodate veterans who do not feel comfortable in mixed-gender treatment settings, some facilities throughout the VA have separate programs for men and women. All residential and inpatient MST programs have separate sleeping areas for men and women. Veterans should feel free to ask to meet with a provider of the same or opposite sex if it would make them feel more comfortable. Service connection or disability compensation is not required to receive free treatment for conditions resulting from MST. More information on violence and sexual abuse is available from the National Center for PTSD <http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/fslist-violence-abuse.asp>.

Syracuse VA Medical Center

800 Irving Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13210