The American Legion’s survey found that nearly 40% of female veterans surveyed said they were dissatisfied with the screening process for military sexual trauma. Swords to Plowshares, a San Francisco veteran service organization conducted their own focus groups earlier this year, and the women in both groups discussed the difficulty in having to repeatedly discuss traumatic experiences with multiple clinicians at the VA and being re-traumatized.
They felt it would be beneficial to have a liaison/advocate to help them through the process. The process can be difficult. Many victims wait until they have been discharged from the military before they feel it is safe to speak about the event(s) and seek treatment. Feeling like they no longer have to fear reprisal from the perpetrator, chain of command, peers, superiors and even subordinates, they go to the VA for help only after being discharged.
Sexual trauma while in the military can be devastating; not finding empathy from the only available resource can be debilitating. The VA is headed in the right direction and I believe the addition of women veteran programs managers, Women Veteran Clinics, and Women Veteran Resource Centers in the VA hospitals demonstrates how hard the VA is working to address the growing number of female veterans seeking healthcare through the Veteran Affairs.
The work needs to continue; research needs to continue and as our veterans needs change the VA needs to be able to adapt to the changes.
For additional information, please visit The American Legion’s news website.