The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, in support of the Military Health System, released a new resource to help those who experience a sexual assault understand military health options. The easy-to-follow brochure, “Sexual Assault Health Care Support for Patients,” is the result of collaboration and intensive research by various organizations throughout the Defense Department.
The brochure is available to download and health care providers can place bulk orders. It highlights Military Health System and service resources, and outlines:
- Sexual assault report options
- Eligibility for care
- Healthy coping strategies
- Crisis hotlines
Sexual assault is a serious problem that affects both men and women, and care and reporting options differ depending on duty status and other factors.
“If you’ve been sexually assaulted, you may feel there’s nothing out there that can help you, but the Defense Department has a lot of resources and advocates available,” said Kate McGraw, interim director of the Deployment Health Clinical Center.
Many service members and veterans may not seek care because of privacy concerns, said Dr. Nathan Galbreath, senior executive advisor to the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. However, personal privacy is a priority for mental health care providers.
“Patients can safely see a provider without fear that their visit will hurt their career or expose information they want to keep private,” he said.
A suite of tools to help primary care doctors and other providers deliver optimal care to sexual assault patients will follow the brochure later this year. The tools are designed to also help providers who have no prior experience with sexual assault patients or are unfamiliar with the regulations governing sexual assault in the military, said Dr. Cara Krulewitch, director of women’s health, medical ethics and patient advocacy for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.