Caring sexual assault patients in the military: Past, present, and future

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Abstract

Recently instituted sexual assault prevention and response policies and programs within the Department of Defense (DoD) have paved the way for significant improvements in the medical care of sexual assault patients in the military services. Military personnel who suffer assault are now able to choose a method of reporting that either immediately triggers an investigation or allows the incident to remain confidential. This process allows for the development of an enhanced trust in the system and allows military personnel to receive medical and forensic care on the level of their choice. Military medical professionals are continually striving to provide the highest standard of care for military personnel, DoD employees, and beneficiaries. The new policies and programs are continually taking shape; however, there are barriers to education and understanding of the sexual assault prevention and response processes that require increased coordination between military and civilian personnel and their medical services in order to provide optimum care for all patients involved.

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