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PHV VA Hosts Inaugural IPV Awareness Expo

The Phoenix VA is hosting an IPV Awareness Expo Oct.4.

The Phoenix VA is hosting an IPV Awareness Expo Oct.4.

By Macario Mora
Friday, September 29, 2017

The Phoenix VA’s Women Veterans Program and the Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Committee is hosting an Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Expo from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Oct. 4 at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center to educate employees and Veterans about the resources available for those who are using or experiencing IPV behaviors.

Kristen Nordquist, Women Veterans Program manager, said October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and the expo will be the Phoenix VA’s first outreach program targeting domestic violence and IPV. She said it was decided to highlight the IPV program because it’s new to the Phoenix VA and is a resource for both Veterans and staff who may be involved in such relationships.

Nordquist said there will be more than 17 different VA and community-based service organizations at the expo to provide resources to employees, Veterans and anyone interested in learning to recognize and effectively respond to IPV concerns. She said the expo will feature three guest speakers.

 “Two speakers will share their experiences surviving intimate partner violence,” Nordquist said. “There will also be a speaker from the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence who will guide trauma-informed discussions about IPV.”  

Dr. Kathryn Doyle, a psychologist with the Women Veterans Program at the Phoenix VA, said the VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program began in 2013. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared in 2015 that IPV was, “a serious, significant public health problem that affects millions of Americans.”

“I was offered the position of IPV program coordinator nine months ago,” Doyle said. “The national program includes recommendations about how each hospital should address IPV, and I am spearheading the effort here to ensure we’re meeting the recommendations.”

Doyle said the hospital is tasked with helping Veterans and employees who are experiencing IPV, which is, in the context of an intimate relationship, a person who is the recipient of, or using, verbal, physical or sexual abuse or stalking behaviors.

Doyle said the IPV program ensures Veterans and employees are asked if they’re experiencing or exhibiting IPV behaviors in a trauma-informed and sensitive way. She said the program provides services to those who say yes when asked, adding the program also provides educational outreach to community partners and providers at the hospital through forums such as the IPV expo.

The national IPV Awareness committee identified Veterans as having a greater risk for using and/or experiencing violence than their civilian counterparts, given the unique stressors posed by military life. Nordquist said women Veterans have a 30 percent chance of experiencing IPV in their lifetime and a 22 percent chance of experiencing IPV while on active duty. Veterans returning from the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are at an even greater risk, according to the IPV Awareness committee.

Doyle said IPV is a difficult topic for many people to discuss, but it’s important that providers know how to talk to Veterans in a sensitive and trauma-informed way. Doyle said the Phoenix VA’s IPV committee began a pilot program this year by screening female Veterans in the gynecology clinic. She said more than 200 women Veterans have been screened over the past two months, and some of those Veterans are now receiving care.

“The screenings have been a success,” Doyle said. “Soon we will expand screening to the PTSD clinic, and eventually we will have the screen available throughout the hospital.”

Nordquist said in addition to the screens, the Phoenix VA will be starting the Strength at Home Program, which has been shown effective in ending physical and psychological abuse in Veterans, and has been adopted throughout several VA facilities She said the Phoenix VA received a grant and has provided this training to clinicians who will facilitate this program within the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The program was developed specifically for Veterans who are using IPV behaviors, and is the only program shown effective in Veterans via controlled trials, according to Doyle.

For employees interested in more information about the IPV program, there are resources available on the VA intranet site. For Veterans interested in more information, the Phoenix VA has a designated phone line Monday through Friday during normal working hours at 602-277-5551, ext. 2680. Those in crisis should dial 911 immediately or the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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