April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and in the San Luis Obispo Vet Center front yard, 170 blue flags represent the military members they have served for sexual trauma experienced in the military.
SLO Vet Center psychologist Dr. Susan Kolderup says sexual trauma in the military is not uncommon, but many active military members and veterans don’t know they qualify for services. At the SLO Vet Center, specialists will see any active military member or veteran that has experienced any kind of sexual trauma, whether that’s assault or harassment. Dr. Kolderup says it can be difficult to talk about trauma, and for some people, it can take years to come forward.
“I want them to know that we believe them, that we take what happened incredibly seriously, and that we believe in their ability to heal,” said Kolderup. “We suspect that there's a lot of underreporting because it takes a lot of courage and strength to be able to speak up. It doesn't matter how long ago the military sexual trauma happened, we are here for them.”
The services are free and confidential. Dr. Kolderup says if you’re unsure whether you qualify, call the Vet Center at 805-782-9101 and ask. They can also help you find the resources you need if it’s not related to sexual trauma.
You can also visit the Vet Center website.