At VA, we work to recognize and address the unique stressors and experiences that Veterans and their families face. Unfortunately, these can include sexual assault in the form of military sexual trauma (MST) and intimate partner violence (IPV).
We encourage you to take time to learn about the resources and programs VA provides to support Veterans impacted by sexual assault.
Impact on homelessness
According to data from VA’s national screening program, 1 in 3 female and 1 in 50 male Veterans report having experienced MST, which includes sexual assault or harassment occurring during military service. While MST has been linked to many negative outcomes for Veteran well-being, recent findings also show that Veterans who have experienced MST are at greater risk of homelessness – as much as double the rate of Veterans who have not.
Among women Veterans experiencing homelessness, MST and IPV – a type of domestic violence that includes physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse between intimate partners – are among the main factors leading to their housing instability.
Care provided by VA
VA is committed to supporting all Veterans and service members, offering free treatment for physical and mental conditions related to MST. Every VA medical center is equipped with resources to care for those affected. Veterans do not need documentation of an experience with MST or a VA disability rating to get care.
A useful resource specifically for those affected by IPV is the Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP), which is committed to helping Veterans, their partners and VA staff who are impacted by IPV. The program uses a person-centered, trauma-informed, recovery-oriented approach to promote healthy, safe relationships.
Veterans who have been impacted by MST or IPV have already experienced a traumatic event and having to find stable housing should not be an added stressor. VA is committed to providing peace of mind to Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness by offering a wide variety of services that respond to urgent housing needs.
We believe you
Learn how to recognize when loved ones may be struggling with difficulties related to sexual assault, as well as how we each can provide help, support and hope.
Though rates of MST are lower among male Veterans, there is a greater number of them, so the number of men who have experienced MST is significant. Male Veterans may be less likely to seek help. Embarrassment, shame and perceptions of masculinity are all barriers to care, but we can change this.
If a victim of sexual assault shares their story with you, let them know you believe them, and you believe in them. Being empathetic and non-judgmental can make all the difference in helping an individual begin their journey to healing.
If you or a Veteran you know needs immediate help, do not hesitate to contact the resources listed below for free support.
Healing takes time. No matter how long it’s been, VA is here to help. If you or someone you know has been impacted by MST or IPV, find support using these resources:
- To connect with a Veterans Crisis Line responder anytime day or night, call 1-800-273-8255, then select 1. You can also start a confidential online chat.
- To access VA’s MST-related services, contact a VA medical center near you.
- If you are experiencing IPV, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.
- For more information or assistance, contact your local IPV Assistance Program coordinator.
- Veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless should contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-424-3838 for help 24/7.