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 in the 15 counties of NW PA. Because of this focus, we want to share this recent story by John S. Jamison of VA’s Readjustment Counseling Service about no-cost counseling for military sexual trauma. As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, sharing information about confidential mental health services for Veterans helps to save lives and promote resiliency and well-being.

If you have any questions or would like to speak with someone about publicizing the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program in your community, please reach out to us.

Read time: 3 minutes

View the original article on VA’s website

Vet Centers: No-cost counseling for military sexual trauma

women veterans talkingSurvivors of military sexual trauma (MST) do not need to have reported the MST to receive professional, confidential counseling. MST is sexual assault or threatening sexual harassment experienced during military service.

Community-based Vet Centers offer counseling to any Veteran or service member—including members of the National Guard and Reserve forces—who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military. Counseling is available regardless of gender or era of service, and a client does not need to have sought care within a certain time frame or provide any kind of documentation of the MST experienced.

Learn more about MST resources, treatment, coping strategies, and how to take the next steps toward good health and wellness.

MST can include:

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  • Being pressured or coerced into sexual activities, such as threats of negative treatment for refusing to cooperate or with promises of better treatment in exchange for sex.
  • Being physically forced to have sex.
  • Being touched in a sexual way that makes you uncomfortable, including during “hazing.”
  • Being subjected to comments about your body or sexual activities that you found threatening.
  • Sexual contact without your consent, such as when you are asleep or intoxicated.
  • Having intimate images or videos taken or shared without your permission.

Vet Centers are safe, accessible and supportive places to receive care for MST in a non-medical setting. They are located in neighborhoods near Veterans, service members and their families, yet separate from VA organizational sites to ensure confidential counseling and reduce barriers to care.

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There are more than 300 Vet Centers, numerous satellite locations and more than 80 Mobile Vet Centers offering services in all 50 states and U.S. territories. All Vet Centers maintain non-traditional appointment schedules including after normal business hours to accommodate your schedule.

Helping you regain confidence in your everyday life

Many Vet Center counselors are Veterans themselves and know that healing from MST looks different for everyone. MST counseling may include individual or group therapy, marital and family counseling, referral for benefits assistance, liaison with community agencies, or substance abuse information and referral to help you deal with the emotions of MST and regain confidence in your everyday life.

In addition to counseling, Vet Centers offer opportunities to engage with others through recreation activities like arts and crafts workshops, game nights, trips to local sports events and barbecue get-togethers.

All Vet Center services are prepaid through military service and you do not need to be registered for VA health care or be service connected for your sexual trauma. Contact your nearest Vet Center or call the 24/7 confidential Vet Center Call Center at 877-927-8387.

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 theresilientveteran.org.

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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