UW Today

May 18, 2011

Susan Avila-Smith, veterans group founder, to speak on sexual assault in the military

News and Information

Susan Avila-Smith

Susan Avila-Smith

Susan Avila-Smith, founder and director of VetWow, a nonpartisan organization addressing the needs of American service members and veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma, will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in 120 Kane.

Her talk is titled Conduct Unbecoming: Sexual Assault in the Military — A Veteran and Survivor of Military Sexual Trauma Helps Bring Justice to Other Survivors.

Avila-Smith, a veteran and survivor of military sexual trauma, or MST, has helped nearly 4,000 male and female clients at various stages of recovery from similar incidents such  MST to obtain medical benefits, legal and personal counseling and other essential services.

Avila-Smith will describe the many ways that military regulations and a culture built on loyalty and “unit cohesion” can cause injury to members of its own community.  She will explain how she came to advocate for the thousands of other survivors of military sexual trauma and share the work that VetWow and the nonprofil charity Pack Parachute do to provide support and guidance for both active duty and veteran personnel as they navigate their own courses to recovery.

The lecture is free and open to the public. It is part of the Veterans of Inter-communal Violence seminar series, sponsored by the UW Clowes Center for the Study of Conflict and Dialogue and the Comparative History of Ideas Program.

For more information, contact Theron Stevenson at 206-685-4716 or at theron@uw.edu, or read about Avila-Smith online.