WHY ARE SO MANY VETERANS ATTEMPTING SUICIDE?


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,

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

  • Most victims will be assaulted more than once
  • 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 TREATMENT PLAN

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 attention to the historical timeline over which the co-occurring diagnosis was made. Women veterans who need to go through detox are referred out before acceptance into the program. 
The initial assessment includes a psychosocial evaluation as well as mental health screening, which are sensitive to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (MST/PTSS/PTSD), Chronic Pain Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Eating Disorders, Nutrition and Spirituality. While recognizing the tendency of over medication of veterans, we are 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 also evaluate her support system, then plan and intervene accordingly.

Physical

Research illustrates the benefits of physical exercise in combatting depression, anxiety, (PTSD) 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 choose exercise options which can be continued by the individual in her community when she returns home. Each woman veteran is exposed to the activities in a loving and nurturing manner. We also believe in the neuropsychological trauma done by trauma and will employ procedures (EMDR) that facilitates a healing brain. Physical therapy will be available for those in need.

Mental

Individual, group and family therapy are provided for each woman using a Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) protocol. CPT has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD. Mindfulness and meditation will also be part of the days schedule coupled with an understanding of Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT). All treatments offered will be empirically supported modalities matched to everyone’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

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 one’s 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 can “tease out” those disorders which call for medication to facilitate affective stabilization.

Spirituality

Spiritual counseling is offered as a primary and essential component to help individuals deal with issues of faith, forgiveness and reconciliation. Part each day will be devoted to Biblical Study, prayer and meditation. While we are a Christ Centered organization and treatment program, we accept women of any faith and extend the utmost consideration for their belief system. Each client will be counseled by our spiritual care clinicians. Also, each client is introduced to the support group of their choice with focus on Celebrate Recovery as a community support system. We believe personal faith is essential to heal to healing. Each woman will also attend church or her 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 everyone’s progress.


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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