Conclusion

The consequences for women with MST are increased difficulty with social and career readjustment.1 Sadly, significant numbers of women who report a sexual assault are discharged from service against their wishes. They are misdiagnosed with adjustment disorder, personality disorder, and preser-vice existing PTSD, making them ineligible for military service and effectively ending their careers.30 MST is a risk factor for homelessness, with 40 percent of homeless women veterans having experienced a sexual assault in the military.31 Women veterans with MST have been found to be nine times more likely to develop PTSD then women with no sexual assault history32 and four times more likely when compared to civilian women with sexual assault. MST is the primary causal factor of PTSD for women; combat experience is the primary predictor of PTSD for men.33 Other common physical ailments frequently co-occurring with PTSD include depression, substance abuse, somatization, obesity, and suicidal behaviors.34 Therefore, the problem of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military is a primary concern for women who have served their country, both in and out of combat settings. Despite the efforts made by the military, it continues to be a primary issue challenging females serving in the military. The health costs for these women as veterans is pervasive both in medical and psychiatric care. Health care costs for women veterans with MST are higher than for women veterans without MST.32

Presently, of the approximate 1.7 million women serving in our military, 30% to 45% report military sexual trauma and 4% to 31% report combat exposure.35 The results are and will be large numbers of female veterans at risk for psychological problems (PTSD, depression, anxiety) and medical problems (gastrointestinal, sexual, obesity), who will be dependent on the health care system.

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