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Bay Pines VA Researches Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD


Post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma are the top two mental health issues for today’s military and veterans.

And both are the focus of ongoing research at the Bay Pines VA Health Care System in St. Petersburg where Dr. Carol O’Brien established the first residential treatment program in the nation for women who developed PTSD as a result of military sexual trauma.

“We started by treating just women,” O’Brien said. “We now treat both men and women. It’s important for everyone to remember that half of the population of veterans with military sexual trauma are actually men.”

O’Brien said her research on PTSD runs the gamut and includes a double-blind placebo crossover study of a non-traditional treatment for PTSD made by a Minneapolis company.

“It’s not a traditional drug like we prescribe medications for PTSD which are very helpful but some of our veterans hesitate to take them,” O’Brien said. “So, we need to look at the whole range of possibilities for the treatment of PTSD.”

Although there is ongoing research into both military sexual assault and PTSD, more is needed according to O’Brien in part to find the causes for the increased number of cases.

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