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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 2, 2024

Top 9 things you need to know about getting care through the Veterans Affairs

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG Writer

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a number of resources to include clinical care to support veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST), a term the VA uses to refer to sexual assault or threatening sexual harassment experienced during military service. MST includes any sexual activity during military service in which you are involved against your will or when unable to say no.  

Here are the top nine things you need to know about getting MST-related care at the VA: 

  1. You may be able to get MST-related care even if you’re not eligible for other VA services
    -Veterans with an Other Than Honorable or better (including uncharacterized) discharge are eligible for MST-related care, regardless of their length of service. Current Service Members can also receive MST-related care at VA medical facilities with TRICARE authorization. 

    -Another option, separate from the Department of Veterans Health Administration is the Veteran Center, referred to as “Vet Center.” Receiving care at the Vet Center does not require Tricare authorization. There are 300 Vet Centers, more than 80 Mobile Vet Centers, and nearly 1,000 community access points across the country that provide a broad range of counseling, outreach and referral services. Vet Centers provide care at no-cost and are located separate from VA medical centers to ensure confidential counseling and reduce barriers to care. You do not have to be enrolled in VA health care or have a service-connected disability. Anyone who visits a Vet Center will be seen that day, and a plan to obtain further services will be discussed. You may also call to schedule an appointment at a time that works for you, including non-traditional hours.  
  2. MST-related care (mental and physical health care) is confidential and free. 
  3. You don’t need a VA disability rating to get care. For most other care through the VA, you need to apply for benefits and have a disability rating, but not for MST-related care.  
  4. To access care, no documentation of the MST experience is required and you don’t need to have reported the MST. Every VA health care facility has an MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related health care and can assist you in accessing care. For the Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator nearest you click this link: Military Sexual Trauma Coordinators - Veterans Benefits Administration ( 
  5. Filing a claim for disability compensation benefits does require some documentation, but not necessarily a CG-6095, (Victim Reporting Preference Statement). For help with disability compensation related to MST, you can contact the Veterans Benefits Administration MST Outreach Coordinator at your local VHA Regional Office
  6. There are no time limits on eligibility, meaning that you can seek out treatment many years after discharge. 
  7. MST-related outpatient care is available at all VA medical centers and many community-based outpatient clinics. Outpatient counseling is available at VA’s VetCenters. The VA also offers specialized inpatient treatment, as needed. In some cases, VA may cover the costs of health care services with a non-VA community provider if a VA provider determines that receiving care from the community provider is in your best medical interest or if services are unavailable at a VA facility in your area.
  8.  The VA created Beyond MST is a free, secure, trauma-sensitive mobile app that provides support and strategies for the health and well-being of survivors of military sexual trauma (MST). The app has over 30 specialized tools and other features to help you cope with challenges, manage symptoms, improve your quality of life and find hope. You can take brief assessments in the app, set self-care goals, track recovery progress, and learn more about MST. You can use the app on your own or as a companion to formal treatment. The app keeps your information private; no account is needed, and any personal information entered in the app is not shared with anyone, including the VA. You can set a PIN lock for extra privacy. 
  9. You can connect with the Veterans Crisis Line anytime by dialing 988 then select 1; starting a confidential chat; texting 838255; or, if you have hearing loss, calling TTY: 800-799-4889. 

Former and current Coast Guard members who wish to file a CG-6095 or get a copy of their previously issued CG-6095 may do so by reaching out to their servicing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Victim Advocate Program Specialist (VAPS)