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Service Dogs for Veterans
P.O. Box 965
Taylors, SC  29687

What is MST and

how can a service

dog help??

 

During their service, both female and male Service members sometimes have upsetting, unwanted sexual experiences, including sexual assault or sexual harassment. “Military sexual trauma” or MST is the term used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to refer to these experiences. The official definition of MST used by VA is given by federal law (U.S. Code 1720D of Title 38). It is:

Psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty or active duty for training.

Sexual harassment is defined as “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”

In more concrete terms, MST includes any sexual activity where you were involved against your will. You may have been physically forced into sexual activities. Or, no physical force may have been used but you were coerced or pressured into sexual activities. For example, you may have been threatened with negative consequences for refusing to cooperate. Or it may have been suggested that you would get faster promotions or better treatment in exchange for sex. These are all signs of MST.

Military sexual trauma also includes sexual experiences that happened while you were not able to consent to sexual activities, such as if you were intoxicated. Other MST experiences include unwanted sexual touching or grabbing, threatening, offensive remarks about your body or your sexual activities, and threatening and unwelcomed sexual advances. If these experiences occurred while you were on active duty or active duty for training, they are considered to be MST.

It’s important to know that MST can occur on or off base, during war or peacetime, and while a Service member is on or off duty. Perpetrators can be men or women, military personnel or civilians, superiors or subordinates in the chain of command. They may have been a stranger to you, or even a friend or intimate partner. Veterans from all eras of service have reported experiencing MST.

If you experienced military sexual assault or harassment, you may blame yourself or feel ashamed. It is important to remember that MST is not your fault. Nothing ever justifies someone harassing or assaulting you.  

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MST Information Bank

What are the benefits of service dogs, emotional support dogs for Veterans?

A great video produced by the VA on the benefits of dogs for PTSD, MST, TBI, and emotional support.

How Can Service Dogs Help Individuals with TBI and PTSD?

A great video explaining some of the ways service dogs help to cope with PTSD and TBI, directly related to Veterans.

Service Dogs for Sexual-Assault Survivors

This is a great article published in The Atlantic about service dogs and sexual assault.  It discusses on-going research and studies, mainly by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense.

Military Sexual Trauma Among US Servicewomen: A Qualitative Study

This an incredibly in-depth scholarly paper published in the American Journal for Public Health.

Results. Factors identified as contributing to MST included deployment dynamics, military culture, and lack of consequences for perpetrators. Participants attributed low MST reporting to negative reactions and blame from peers and supervisors, concerns about confidentiality, and stigma.  We identified several avenues to address MST, including strengthening consequences for perpetrators.

What is military sexual trauma (MST)?

This is the VA's Official page Military Sexual Trauma (MST).  There is a lot of great information here.

Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA

This link covers the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  It is published by the ADA, so it is the most accurate representation of the law.  This guidance and provisions should be read in conjunction with the publication ADA Revised Requirements: Sevice Animals which is linked below this article.

ADA Revised Requirements: Service Animals

This is the official PDF publication of the Americans with Disabilities Act, produced by the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for title II (State and local government services) and title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities) on September 15, 2010, in the Federal Register. These requirements, or rules, clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 20 years and contain new, and updated, requirements, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards).

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