By Frank A. Pearsall
County Veterans Service Officer 

VA Expands Care Related To Military Sexual Trauma – Transylvania County NC


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced expanded eligibility for veterans in need of mental health care due to sexual assault or sexual harassment that occurred during their military service. This trauma is commonly known as military sexual trauma (MST).

This expansion, which primarily pertains to Reservists and National Guard members participating in weekend drill, gives the authority to offer veterans the appropriate care and services needed to treat conditions resulting from MST that occurred during a period of inactive duty training.

VA Secretary McDonald recently met with Ruth Moore, a Navy veteran and MST survivor for whom the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 is named. Moore will be working with VA to ensure that survivors are treated fairly and compassionately. Veter-ans with MST must have fair compensation exams and access health care practitioners who are trained in understanding and working with MST issues.

VA works closely with trauma survivors to ensure a full continuum of health care services are provided to assist veterans recovering from experiences of MST. Recognizing that MST survivors may have special needs and concerns, every VA health care facility has an MST coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. Every VA medical center offers MST-related outpatient counseling.

Currently, all VA health care for mental and physical health conditions related to MST is provided free of charge. Veterans do not need to have a service-connected disability or seeking disability compensation to be eligible for MST-related counseling and care. Veterans also do not need to have reported such incidents to the Department of Defense or possess documentation or records to support their assertion of having experienced such trauma. The determination of whether a veteran’s condition is MST-related is strictly a clinical determination made by the responsible VA mental health provider. Finally, veterans do not need be enrolled in VA’s health care system to qualify for MST-related treatment, as it is independent of VA’s general treatment authority.

Veterans may obtain an application for MST related treatment at the Transylvania County Veterans Service Officer at 884-3276. The Veterans Service Office is located in the Social Services Building, 203 East Morgan Street, Room 237 in Brevard. The Social Services Building is across the street from the American Legion building, the Baptist Church and the old county jail. The office is normally available for walk-in traffic on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and other days by appointment.


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