St. Cloud VA Health Care System
Increasing awareness of military sexual trauma using a clothesline
April 5, 2018
As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, the St. Cloud VA Health Care System is hosting The Clothesline Project on April 24-26, in the VA Auditorium (Bldg. 8), at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center in St. Cloud. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 24 and April 26, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 25. The event is free and open to the public.
A special presentation by VA psychologist Dr. John Ross, Understanding the Neurobiology of Trauma, is scheduled for 5 p.m. on April 25.
The Clothesline Project at the St. Cloud VA offers a way for those affected by military sexual trauma, sexual assault, and sexual abuse to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. Shirts are then displayed on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of military sexual trauma.
According to Joy Finkelson, Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator at the St. Cloud VA, The Clothesline Project is a program that started in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women.
“We’ve adapted the concept to address military sexual trauma, sexual assault, and sexual abuse, Finkelson said. These issues affect all Veterans, because any type of trauma can have lasting effects on physical and mental health.”
“We also know that Veterans can recover from trauma, and we want to help,” Finkelson added.
Veterans’ organizations have donated shirts and these are available now to Veteran participants free of charge. Veterans may contact Joy Finkelson by calling 320- 252-1670 ext. 6398 to coordinate a pick-up time.
All shirts should be delivered to the VA by April 14. Drop-off locations include the VA Clinics in Montevideo, Alexandria and Brainerd, and the front desks in Building 1 and Building 111 at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center.
Shirts will also be available for decoration during the exhibit period.
Those decorating shirts will remain anonymous.
During their service, both female and male service members sometimes have upsetting, unwanted sexual experiences, including sexual assault or sexual harassment. “Military sexual trauma” or MST is the term used by VA to refer to these experiences
MST includes any sexual activity where someone was involved against their will.
At VA, Veterans can receive treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to MST. Veterans may be able to receive MST-related care even if not eligible for other VA services. To receive these services, a VA service-connected disability rating is not required, and it is not required to have reported the incident when it happened or to have other documentation that it occurred.
For more information regarding MST please contact Joy Finkelson, Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator, at 320-252-1670, ext. 6398.