New VA Center for Victims of Sexual Assault

To address a serious problem in the war zone, in recruitment centers, and in the military generally, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it will open a new treatment center in Bernards Township, New Jersey, the first of its kind anywhere in the country, "that will focus exclusively on women veterans who have been victims of sexual assaults." And it will have 10 beds.

Well, I guess you gotta start somewhere.

The move comes amid an increase in sexual assaults reported by the military. U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mean that there are also now women veterans suffering combat-related stress, on top of sexual trauma.

The VA already has a network of 15 sexual trauma programs, but those programs either care for both men and women, or for women who have mental issues not related to sexual assault.

…“There’s a lot of women who have residential needs who I think are less likely to come to the VA because it’s literally spending 24-7 with guys,” Miklos Losonczy, one of two VA psychiatrists behind the creation of the treatment center, told The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark. Losonczy worried that women veterans who need treatment might not be seeking it because “they think the VA is all men and wonder, ‘Why would I get my military sexual trauma treatment surrounded by men?”’
The possible problems inherent in that structure is evident in Ginmar's recent guest post, The Startle Reflex: "In group therapy, with the exception of a couple of Korean and Viet Nam vets, I was the sole woman—and none of them knew I'd fought off a sexual assault in Iraq. … It fell to me to call them on their sexism, and for my pains I got called a man hater, in a group where I was outnumbered. … I had been recommended to the program through the VA's women's center. Evidently it never occurred to anyone that putting a woman amongst a group of sexists was not the best way to mental health."

So, yeah. This is a good first step, but boy—what a baby step! 2,947 sexual assaults were reported in the military in 2006, so providing a single 10-bed facility for the unknown number of victims, given our humongous defense budget, is pretty pathetic. But unsurprising, since W stands for women wev.

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