- Military Sexual Trauma, or MST refers to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that a veteran experienced during his or her military service.
- These experiences result in a “Psychological Trauma."
- He or she may have been pressured into sexual activities, may have been unable to consent to sexual activities, or may have been physically forced into sexual activities.
Military Sexual Assault and Military Sexual Trauma are sensitive and controversial topics to discuss, but I have never been one to shy away from controversy. My articles have reflected my sometimes unpopular position that the military needed to open all its ranks to women service members.
I welcomed women’s inclusion into the combat arms branches of the Army such as Infantry and Armor, and hailed their matriculation into the exclusive and coveted Ranger Qualification. Many of my readers know that I am the product of two veterans. Both my Mom and Dad proudly served during WWII.
What you didn’t know was that my mother was sexually assaulted while serving on active duty. She characterized the incident as “just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” It will be with that sensitivity that I approach this subject.
The Defense Department (DOD) released its annual report which showed sexual assault increased by about 10 percent in 2017. The increase in reporting occurred across all four military services. “Preventing sexual assault is our moral duty,” Former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis wrote in an agency wide memo. “By its nature, sexual assault is one of the most destructive factors in building a mission-focused military…The Military Chain of Command is to be zealous in ridding our ranks of such illegal, abhorrent behavior.”
Unfortunately, I respectfully disagree with the good General. This isn’t a problem that can be fixed within the “Chain of Command.” This isn’t a women’s problem. This is moral dilemma affecting all of us. I firmly believe that the military is on the wrong side of history regarding sexual assault as it was with it’s position on the “Jim Crow” or racial segregation of troops.
Just as it took the help of brave non minorities “men and women of character” to change that misguided racial military climate and culture, I believe it will take the help of brave “people of character” to fix the culture of the military when it comes to sexual assault. There’s no “wrong place or wrong time” for a service member when it comes to this issue.
We all must change. Military Sexual Trauma, or MST, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) refers to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that a veteran experienced during his or her military service. These experiences result in a “Psychological Trauma.” MST includes any sexual activity where a service member is involved against his or her will. He or she may have been pressured into sexual activities, may have been unable to consent to sexual activities, or may have been physically forced into sexual activities.
There are an estimated 2.2 million women currently serving or veterans. United with men of character, “we” can be a powerful voice for change, and transform the culture in the military.