Significant Rate of Sexual Trauma among U.S. Women Veterans
Thursday, November 6, 2008 1:09 PM

In a recent press release from its annual meeting, the American Public Health Association (APHA) reported the results of a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs – Veterans Health Administration (VHA) study on military sexual trauma (MST) of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who used VHA services upon returning to the United States. According to the VHA’s abstract, researchers looked at nearly 90,000 records from 2001 to 2006. They found that 14.5% of female veterans and 0.6% of male veterans reported experiencing some kind of MST during their service, including sexual harassment or actual or threatened rape. They also found that women and men who reported experiencing MST were three times more likely to develop a mental illness - such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression- than those who did not report such experiences. The VHA researchers noted that while most mental illnesses did not vary by gender, female MST victims were significantly more likely to develop PTSD than male MST victims.

Overall, the researchers say this study underscores the need to continue VHA’s universal MST screening policy and to provide early intervention for MST victims in order to prevent them from developing long-term consequences such as mental illnesses.

Compiled from:

American Public Health Association (APHA), News Room, Substantial Proportion of Female Veterans Report Military Sexual Trauma: Military Sexual Trauma Is Associated with Higher Rates of Mental Health Problems (28 October 2008).

Feminist Majority Foundation, Feminist Daily News Wire, Sexual Trauma Affects Many Women Veterans (29 October 2008).

Kimerling, Rachel et al., Burden of Mental Illness Associated with Military Sexual Trauma among Veterans Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, in American Public Health Association (APHA), Scientific Sessions, 2008 Annual Meeting (28 October 2008). (Abstract).