WHY ARE SO MANY VETERANS ATTEMPTING SUICIDE?

“It’s not that people who attempt suicide want to harm themselves as much as they want the pain they’re currently in to stop.”
Pentagon Study

“Combat stress is just one reason why veterans attempt suicide. Military sexual assaults are another."
National Center for Veterans
“Suicide risk associated with Military Sexual Trauma remains significantly elevated.”
American Journal Preventative Medicine

When left untreated Military Sexual Trauma (MST) has a high correlation with; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, family disintegration, divorce, eating disorders, homelessness and suicide (women ages 18 -29 are 12 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-veteran women).
Currently the only place with a dedicated Residential Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Treatment Program is the VA, yet many women veterans choose not to use VA services. It’s time to show women veterans that they are not alone, and that there is a safe place to heal.

MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term used by the Department of Veterans Affairs to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that a Veteran experienced during his or her military service.

1 in 4 women will experience some type of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) during their service

80% do not report their assault because of fear of retaliation
1 in 7 victims were assaulted by someone in their chain of command
There are an estimated half a million women victims of MST

THE SOLUTION

The Women’s Integrated Recovery Program for MST/PTSD uses a tested treatment modality designed to address the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of each woman veteran. Our "integrated" treatment plan works by using multiple dimensions of treatment that simultaneously work together to provide healing and restoration to the individual, while teaching positive personal disciplines designed to be a resource for life-long success.
Upon admission to our program, each woman receives an assessment to formulate her treatment plan. Given that many women will be admitted with a chemical dependence diagnosis along with a co-occurring disorder, we pay particular attention to the historical timeline over which the co-occurring diagnosis was made. Women veterans who need to go through detox will be referred out before acceptance into the program.
The initial assessment will include a psycho-social evaluation as well as mental health screening which will be sensitive to post traumatic stress, Chronic Pain Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Eating Disorders, Nutrition and Spirituality. While recognizing the over medication of veterans, we will be mindful of those who might have been unnecessarily medicated and those in need of medication. Approaching each woman’s treatment plan from a systemic perspective, we will also evaluate her support system, then plan and intervene accordingly.

Physical

Research illustrates the benefits of physical exercise in combatting depression, anxiety, PTS(D) and almost any other mental/emotional disorder. We will offer a variety of activities including CrossFit, yoga, equine therapy and gardening. A formidable obstacle to healing is “isolation”. We will choose exercise options which can be continued by the individual in her community when she returns home. Each woman veteran will be exposed to the activities in a loving and nurturing manner.

Mental

Individual, group and family therapy will be provided for each woman using a Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) protocol. CPT has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD. All treatments offered will be empirically supported modalities matched to each individual's needs. Ultimately, the goal is to integrate and transform those detached, dissociated thoughts and feelings, manifested in self destructive, pathogenic actions into life enhancing adaptive behaviors. Ideally, each woman will be able to tell her full and complete story in her own way.

Emotional

Needless to say, it is difficult to sort out any of the four domains of healing since they all so significantly affect each other. As referenced above, CPT is ideally suited as a clinical intervention for both the cognitive and emotional domains. Nevertheless, perhaps the biggest diagnostic challenges in mental health are identifying those disorders which have a biochemical imbalance, determining if medication is needed and then providing the correct medication and dose. Research illustrates that a chemical imbalance does not always require medication. Oftentimes the appropriate non-medicinal therapeutic intervention(s) will have a corrective effect on ones brain chemistry. Furthermore, so many of the women veterans we will be treating will bring with them a history of substance abuse which complicates the diagnostic picture. Many of the women were misdiagnosed and medicated by an unsuspecting clinician unaware of the substance abuse history. As a treatment team, we bring decades of assessment experience and are able to “tease out” those disorders which call for medication in order to facilitate affective stabilization.

Spirituality

Spiritual counseling will be offered as a primary and essential component to help individuals deal with issues of faith, forgiveness and reconciliation. While we are a Christian organization, we will accept women of any faith and extend the utmost consideration for their belief system. Each woman will be introduced to the support group of their choice with particular focus on 12 Step and Celebrate Recovery as community support systems. Each woman will also have the opportunity to attend church or their respective house of worship.

CONTINUUM OF CARE

The Integrated Recovery program is designed to provide an on-site continuum of care. The first 30 days are considered Primary Care. The women will transition to lower levels of care (Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient) and all will have the option to remain in residence for the recommended 90 day period. The length of treatment will vary according to each individual’s progress.


HOW TO GET INVOLVED

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1K BY 1K (B1)

Any Organization can sign up and start raising money, and every little bit counts.


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CrossFit Gyms

CrossFit Gyms, run an Operation 22 MST Workout Event at your gym to raise awareness and money. We'll help you do it.


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Volunteer

We can always use help for those that are passionate about the cause, find out here how you can help.

SOURCES: ARTICLES ON MST

# Title Source Site
1 Military Sexual Trauma US Department of Veterans Affairs open_in_browser GO TO SITE
2 Facts on United States Military Sexual Violence Protect Our Defenders open_in_browser GO TO SITE
3 Suicide Risk Among Women Veterans in Distress: Perspectives of Responders on the Veterans Crisis Line Rand Corporation open_in_browser GO TO SITE
4 Debunking Claims of Progress on Military Sexual Trauma Protect Our Defenders open_in_browser GO TO SITE
5 Military Sexual Assault Victims Discharged After Filing Complaints Time open_in_browser GO TO SITE
6 Study reveals top reason behind soldiers' suicides Military Suicide Research Consortium open_in_browser GO TO SITE
7 The Relationship between PTSD and Suicide US Department of Veterans Affairs open_in_browser GO TO SITE
8 Study: Female Vets Especially Vulnerable to Suicide National Public Radio (NPR) open_in_browser GO TO SITE
9 Safe Helpline: Victim Care Safe Helpline open_in_browser GO TO SITE
10 Suicide rate of female military veterans is called "staggering" LA Times open_in_browser GO TO SITE
11 New Study Finds Staggering Suicide Rates Among Female Veterans Common Dreams open_in_browser GO TO SITE
12 Military Sexual Trauma and Suicide Mortality American Journal of Preventative Medicine (AJPM) open_in_browser GO TO SITE
13 Military Sexual Trauma Survivors call for More Services for Victims U.S. Medicine open_in_browser GO TO SITE
14 US Senate Committee on Armed services, Sexual Assault in the Military US Senate open_in_browser GO TO SITE
15 Testimony on Sexual Assaults in the Military U.S. Government Printing Office open_in_browser GO TO SITE
16 Invisible Wounds House Committee on Veterans' Affairs open_in_browser GO TO SITE
17 Testimony: The Relationship Between MST, PTSD and Suicide US Senate Committee on Armed services open_in_browser GO TO SITE
18 Health Effects of Military Service on Women Veterans Department of Veterans Affairs open_in_browser GO TO SITE
19 Editorial: Prevalence of veteran suicide is an emergency CJ Online open_in_browser GO TO SITE
20 FOR MORE INFORMATION CONCERNING WOMEN VETERANS Center for Women Veterans (CWV) open_in_browser GO TO SITE

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