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Bay Pines VA Doc Testifies before Congress on Military Sexual Trauma

Iowa VA

More mental health programs are needed for male veterans who are living with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) according to a top psychologist and researcher from Bay Pines VA Health Care System.

Dr. Carol O’Brien, chief of the Bay Pines VA Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs, testified Friday before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Health subcommittee. The hearing was titled: Safety for Survivors: Care and Treatment for Military Sexual Trauma.

O’Brien, who started the first residential program specific to military sexual trauma, said the VA is making progress treating PTSD linked to sexual trauma.

“But, we need programs to specifically address the complex family problems, behavioral issues, and co-occurring disorders that are typically seen in this group of veterans,” O’Brien said.

She also suggests providing earlier treatment in the VA as well as for active-duty military for those who have experienced military sexual trauma.

Three veterans, each a victim of military sexual assault, also  testified Friday. Their testimony was so powerful it evoked sympathy and apologies from the members of congress sitting on the panel.

The House members also expressed frustration with what they perceive as a lack of urgency from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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