The Fort Irwin SHARP program is teaming up with MEDDAC to implement a six-week, full-time trauma recovery program for active duty servicemembers and dependents, who are survivors of sexual assault – the first of its kind in an active duty setting.
The Warrior Renew Program uses an integrated curriculum specifically designed to address the unique aspects of military sexual trauma. It leads participants through a series of psycho-education classes, group therapy activities, and emotional processing along with mind-body techniques such as awareness-based meditation, yoga, self-defense, equine therapy, wilderness therapy, and art therapy to promote healing and help survivors recover their ability to thrive. This program has been highly successful in helping Veterans heal from military sexual trauma that occurred during their service, but has never before been employed on an active duty installation for Soldiers, who are still serving.
While the Army has been working hard to eliminate sexual violence from its ranks, according to a 2012 Department of Defense survey, 26 percent of women and three percent of men currently serving have already endured a sexual assault during their time in the military. This is an experience that can have devastating long-term consequences for survivors. More than half of those who reported being sexually assaulted said they felt it negatively impacted their job performance and almost three out of five said it made them think about leaving the military. In fact, the research shows that both men and women are four times more likely to develop post traumatic stress disorder from a sexual assault than from combat.
This program is designed, not just to help survivors manage their symptoms, but to transform the way their trauma has been processed and empower them to reclaim their lives and truly feel whole again. The plan is to run approximately four sessions of Warrior Renew each year, depending on demand, with the first session beginning Sept. 3. Applications are being accepted now, and are available through victim advocates, chaplains, Military Family Life Counselors, and behavioral health counselors.