Military Sexual Trauma Proclamation Issued by Governor Shapiro

NW PA Counties graphicThe Northwest Pennsylvania (NW PA) Veteran Suicide Prevention Program operates on a three-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, community organizations, and Veterans and their families. The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) is an active partner and responsible for ensuring that the Program integrates current Veteran suicide prevention initiatives throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Please consider sharing the following information about critical support services within your personal and professional networks.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to speak with someone about publicizing the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program in your community.
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April Declared Military Sexual Trauma Awareness Month

MST QR codeFORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – On March 28th, 2023, Governor Shapiro signed a proclamation declaring April 2023, Military Sexual Trauma Awareness Month. It coincides with the national observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and aims to raise awareness of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and to promote and educate on the crucial support services available across all levels of government, National Guard formations and across all communities in the commonwealth.

MST Proclamation and Info Packet_Fin_PPLLast December, following passage of the PACT Act, President Biden signed an MST bill package in to law intended to address hundreds of MST claims that have been denied due to inadequate training of VA Providers and Board members. H.R. 2724, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide for peer support specialists for claimants who are survivors of military sexual trauma; survivors of military sexual trauma. H.R. 6064, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to seek to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for a review of VA’s examinations of disability compensation claims for mental and physical conditions linked to MST. H.R. 6961 “Dignity for MST Survivors’ Act,” act requires the VA to ensure each member of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) is offered annual training on MST and proceedings that concern a claim for compensation based on MST. H.R. 7335, the “MST Claims Coordination Act,” directs the improvement of coordination between the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration with respect to claims for compensation arising from MST.

MST Proclamation and Info Packet_Fin_PPL_2Supporting events and calendar for the month of April are posted on the PA National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program’s landing page. Additionally, the DMVA’s consolidated information and referral tool, PA VetConnect, contains a multitude of comprehensive listings to connect Service Members to various state, local and federal programming and support services to include Veteran Service Organization Representatives accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to help ensure that claimants have access to responsible and qualified representation on their VA benefits claims. Representatives are also trained on the latest benefits changes to include newly enacted PACT and MST benefits.

In January 2023 for example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs enacted a rule which expanded access to acute suicidal crises care for any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost. This includes inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA system to use this benefit. Moreover, recently updated federal plans to prevent and end homelessness includes the reduction of housing instability among survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence, including family and intimate partner violence.

To subscribe to the PA National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Re- sponse (SAPR) Times monthly news- letter, please e-mail SAPR Program Manager Charity Harmon at:

Looking to Get Involved?

friends standing togetherWhether you identify as a healthcare provider, community organization, or Veteran, there are several opportunities through the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program and PERU to connect to resources, participate in educational training, and promote harm reduction strategies. We are actively recruiting healthcare and community partners to work with us in meeting our goals and objectives. To learn more, visit the program website at

Need Help? Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

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