BATON ROUGE: The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) has teamed up with the USS Kidd Veterans Museum and various local organizations to present KIDD Keynotes: Sexual Assault Awareness Month from 5: 30 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the USS KIDD Veterans Museum on April 15.

This free community conversation will involve a panel discussion by subject matter experts, including Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System Women’s Health Medical Director Dr. Erin Brewer, Baton Rouge Veterans Center Director Marva Harris, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans 2019 Trailblazer and community activist Tonja Myles, who all work in the fields of sexual assault and military sexual assault.

“Our Department prohibits and will not tolerate sexual assault, harassment, or any behavior of a sexual nature that intimidates, exploits, insults, demeans, disrespects, or embarrasses anyone,” says LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland. “As a veteran, a husband, a father, a friend, and a public servant, I am committed to helping those in need and tonight’s panel discussion is one way that we can all learn more about a topic that affects us all.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, sexual violence happens in every community and affects people of all genders and ages. Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact. This includes words and actions of a sexual nature against a person’s will and without their consent. A person may use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence.

According to the 2016 Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, 14,900 military members (8,600 women and 6,300 men) were sexually assaulted in 2016. And, over 1 in 4 women and 1 in 3 men were assaulted by someone in their chain of command.

In an effort to reach more veterans that may be suffering in silence, LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland took a proactive approach to ensure that all LDVA Veterans Assistance Counselors are now trained in both Military Sexual Trauma and Suicide Prevention Management.

We invite all members of the community to join us for this important discussion being moderated by LDVA’s Communications Director, Ms. Alex Juan.

This event will happen in the lobby of the USS KIDD Veterans Museum which is located at 305 South River Road in Baton Rouge. Light snacks and refreshments will be served. Parking can be found along River Road or at the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino parking garage.