DUBLIN, Ga. — The Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin started a new position dedicated to helping veterans who faced any type of abuse while serving. 13WMAZ learned why this service is important and learned more about the employee in charge.

In fiscal year 2018, the Department of Defense reported 20,500 service members experienced some type of "contact or penetrative sexual assault." The survey shows most of the sexual assaults happened with service members aged 17 to 24 who "work, train, or live in close proximity."

"Not knowing what to do to help him made me want to learn more about what to do to help him," Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator Margaret Dukes said.

After watching a family member face sexual assault, Dukes became an advocate to hopefully help others.

"I couldn't undo the past, but what I could do is that the son and daughters of other parents who went out to serve our country would receive care, and they would have someone to listen and to be able to tell their story," Dukes said. 

If a veteran went through any type of sexual trauma while they were serving, all they have to is go to the Carl Vinson VA. The first step is going to be them speaking to a counselor who will validate their story. 

"And then our providers will do a warm hand-off to Mental Health, because Mental Health addresses those symptoms of disorder or those intrusive types of moods and thoughts," Dukes said.

Mental Health can recommend group classes, one on one sessions, or medication for veterans. 

"We are not going to go looking for the bad guy, we are going to be very present, we are going to address the need given to us, and they get to say, "Yes, it happened and I want treatment," or, "Yes, it happened and I don't want treatment," Dukes said.

To further help veterans, all employees at the Carl Vinson VA are being trained on sexual trauma.

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