Sex & Veterans
In this episode, Asya Brodsky gives insight into sexual issues and concerns with veterans. From injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or military sexual trauma (MST), Brodsky explains how these experiences can create all kinds of ramifications in the life of a veteran and how these can affect sexual function and intimacy with a partner.
What are the kinds of sexual concerns that are prevalent among veterans?
PTSD is still the most common issue among veterans, as well as PTSD due to MST. According to Brodsky, veterans in combat who come back physically whole carry great psychological and emotional repercussions. However, the recovery and rehabilitation process for them are focused on basic means and sexuality is often neglected.
What are some of the steps around PTSD and MST? Is this something that the military is taking on?
There are multiple campaigns for MST for veterans. These campaigns let them know that there is support out there and that actions are being taken to address their mental health and really look into this seriously.
What kinds of things get in the way of veterans seeking help in sexual issues?
Brodsky said it’s still primarily military culture where soldiers are taught to be tough and disconnected from their emotions to survive. The contradiction is, what helps them in the service, hurts them in civilian life. It’s a big deterrent for vets seeking out services also because of the stigma about seeking help for mental issues.
What are these people facing coming back from war wounded?
If you were injured in combat, likely you have a combination of physical and psychological injury affecting someone’s identity and self-concept. Physical injuries have an effect on sexuality and sexual expression. Brodsky is positive, however, that in no time, authorities will recognize sexual issues to be part of the rehabilitation process.
What should spouses do?
Brodsky gives suggestions on what veteran couples can do, such as therapy. She also underlines the importance of being patient and recognizing that sexuality can change overtime. Military partners should also make themselves aware of PTSD and follow the lead of their partner on whether they feel comfortable talking about their experience.
In the end, Brodsky advises veterans to seek help as soon as possible.
Asya Brodsky, LCSW, CADC, CST is a licensed clinical social worker, certified alcohol and drug counselor and certified sex therapist through AASECT. She holds positions as the Women Veterans Program Manager at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and maintains her own private sex therapy practice, Speak Chicago Psychotherapy LLC. Asya is a relational psychodynamically-informed psychotherapist, specializing in the areas of sexual functioning and expression and their impact on individual and relational identities and lives. Asya is affiliated with psychoanalytic communities in Chicago and is the co-founder and co-leader of the Chicago Sex Therapist Network.
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