Military sexual assault discussed in mental health summit - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Military sexual assault discussed in mental health summit

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System hosted a mental health summit at the Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Friday.

The event drew almost 100 people, including members of groups helping veterans.

During the summit, several topics were discussed, including military sexual trauma, which is a term that includes sexual assault and sexual harassment during his or her military service.

Psychologist Residential Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Susan Matlock-Hetzel gave a presentation about this topic, which she said is underreported.

"We know one in five women in the military report a sexual assault. We know 1 in 100 men so we know is common. We know it's underreported and we want our veterans to know we are not alone,” Matlock-Hetzel said.

She said each VA hospital has a military sexual trauma coordinator and resources available for victims.

"We have physical health providers, we have mental health providers that will help them with what they're experiencing current day and to be able to recover them from those experiences. Whether that would be physical or mental and it’s all free of charge,” Matlock-Hetzel said.

Clinical Psychologist and Local Recovery Coordinator Dr. Melissa Switzer said this is the first time the topic has been discussed at this event.

“It’s something that it had been taboo to talk about and as more females are entering military service. We are seeing more experiences of military sexual trauma, which could include sexual harassment as well,” Dr. Switzer said.

The summit aims to bring community members and the VA together to improve mental health services to veterans and family members.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Executive Director Cynthia Cunningham said knowing about other services provided will help her give veterans and their families more resources.

"So many of us offer mental health services but we get busy in our offices that we don't know what the other one does. Wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and learn what each other is doing,” Cunningham said.

Some of the topics that will be discussed include the Veteran's Justice Outreach Program.

Rep. Bill Flores attended part of the summit.

There will be another summit at the Temple VA on Sept. 7. 

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