On December 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced an expansion of mental health care services under the authority of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAAA). The expansion focuses primarily on providing mental health care to Reservists and National Guard members who were victims of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) during a period of inactive duty training or participating in weekend drills.
The VA is constantly working to improve services to military servicemembers who have suffered sexual assault or trauma while enlisted. Every VA medical center and Community-based Veteran’s Center is equipped to offer MST-related care and outpatient counseling. This care is offered free of charge to all veterans and it does not require a veteran to have any service-connected disability to obtain care. A veteran does not need to be seeking disability compensation, nor does he or she have to report the incident to the VA, Department of Defense, or have any documentation of the incident.
The determination of MST-connected mental health concerns is a clinical decision made by the appropriate VA mental health provider. Veterans also do not have to be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive this MST-specific care.
As the VA works to improve access to MST-related care and reduce the stigma of reporting and addressing these incidents, servicemembers should remember that there are services to help them both during military service and afterward as a veteran.
Mental disorders are a form of service-connected disability which veterans’ disability benefits may address. The Veterans Help Group ® Disability Advocacy Group helps disabled veterans and their families through the process of applying for benefits and appealing VA disability benefit decisions. If you would like to speak to a disability advocate, contact the Veterans Help Group ® Disability Advocacy Group for assistance and support for your claim. Call today – 1-855-855-8992.