VA’s ‘Chalk the Walk’ bringing awareness to military sexual trauma
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is bringing awareness to military sexual assault, and the military sexual trauma that follows.
On Monday, visitors had a chance to check out the “clothespin project,” which included powerful statements, and the “Chalk the Walk” display- which allowed visitors read messages of support as they walk into the clinic.
“One in three women, and one in 50 men report experiencing military sexual trauma,” says social worker Heather Harris, who serves as the VA’s MTS coordinator for West Texas. “Here at the VA, any care related to military sexual trauma is free of charge. That includes behavioral health or physical health. We have our behavioral health clinic that treats any kind of depression of PTSD related to that.”
Some of the messages on the shirts included such phrases: “I am not what happened to me... I am what I choose to become!” and “My clothing is not my consent!” Harris says these events are important because they encourage people to walk in and seek help- especially if they had prior reservations.
“Just to raise awareness it’s something that both men and women can experience, and that again... we have services that are available to help them in their recovery. It’s very important for survivors to know that they’re not alone, whether that’s with other survivors or that there are staff that are ready to assist them and help them in a non-judgmental way,” she said. “If they have questions regarding military sexual trauma, to call their local VA and ask for their MST coordinator, and they will be directed to myself.”
While some of the words in chalk tell survivors to “Be the Light”, “Be Brave”, and to “Be a Start”, (806) 656-HOPE is also included.
“We just want to instill hope for those survivors that there’s treatment, and that there’s help available,” Harris said.
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