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According to the definition by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (2020), military sexual trauma (MST) are experiences of sexual assault, or repeated threatening sexual harassment that occurred while a person is, or was, in any branch of the United States Armed Forces. The United States Armed Forces consists of five military branches: Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, and the Marine Corps. The Veteran Affairs Mental Health agency (2015) stated that the definition is derived from Federal Law (Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D) and is “psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.” Statistics show that an estimated 1 in 4 female veterans and 1 in 100 male veterans in the VA health care system report experiencing MST.

There are two options for service members and military dependents that are looking to report sexual assault: restricted or unrestricted reporting. The victim will be asked to fill out a DD Form 2910 along with receiving assistance from a Uniformed Victim Advocate, SAPR Victim Advocate, or a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

Below are the descriptive details for reporting sexual violence and receiving military services:

Restricted Report

  • Offers the opportunity for a victim to make a confidential report which will afford:
    • Access to health care (medical and/or mental)
    • Advocacy by a SARC (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator)/SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention Coordinator - Army only) or Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA, often abbreviated to VA)
    • Legal Counsel by a Special Victims Counsel (SVC), which serves Air Force, Army, and Coast guard) or Victims Legal Counsel (VLC), which serves Marines and Navy
  • Is available to:
    • Active Duty
    • Their Adult Dependents
    • National Guard & Reserve
  • Can only be made to:
    • SARC/SHARP
    • SAPR VA
    • Healthcare personnel
  • Can be converted to an Unrestricted Report at a later time.

Unrestricted Report

  • Offers the opportunity for a victim to make a report which will afford:
    • An official investigation
    • Access to health care (medical and/or mental)
    • Advocacy by a SARC or SAPR VA
    • Legal Counsel by an SVC or VLC
  • Is available to:
    • Active Duty
    • Their Adult Dependents
    • National Guard & Reserve
    • DoD civilians
    • DoD contractors (OCONUS-Outside the Continental United States)
  • Can be made to:
    • SARC
    • SAPR VA
    • Healthcare personnel
    • Law Enforcement
    • Commander/Commanding Officer (job duty, not rank)
  • Cannot be converted to a Restricted Report.

References:

 United States Department of Veteran Affairs. (2020, August 11). Military Sexual Trauma. https://www.va.gov/health-care/health-needs-conditions/military-sexual-trauma/

Veterans Mental Health Agency. (2015, April). Military Sexual Trauma. https://jpp.whs.mil/Public/docs/03_Topic-Areas/05-Comp_Rest/20150618/03_VeteransAdministration_MilitarySexTrauma_FactSheet.pdf