Showing posts with label military sexual trauma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military sexual trauma. Show all posts

Thursday, May 14, 2020

“I've gone through a lot of darkness..."

Female veterans struggling with PTSD


CBS 46 News
Bobeth Yates
May 13, 2020

“It just put me in a whole different mindset, that had me mentally imbalanced and irrationally doing things in an OCD type style. Once diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder I have never been able to hold a job for any length of time because the trauma comes with triggers.” Isna T. Summerlin.

CONYERS Ga. (CBS46) -- May is mental health awareness month and its estimated that up to 20% of veterans suffer with PTSD.

Those numbers can be broken down by conflict with each war averaging anywhere from 11-20% of vets with PTSD. But, what about those who didn't go to war and still suffered trauma.

For most a garden is just that, garden but for one veteran suffering with PTSD her garden has been her saving grace.

“This is so therapeutic,” said Air Force veteran Isna T. Summerlin. “I've gone through a lot of darkness and I see me emerging just like these radishes” added Summerlin who says her battle with PTSD goes back decades.

“I’ve been fighting literally since 2001 to get compensation for the post traumatic stress disorder”, Summerlin added.
read it here

Friday, March 20, 2020

The general public has twisted ideas about female veterans...time to change the conversation

Kathie Costos on Remember The Fallen

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 20, 2020

Last night I was the guest on Remember The Fallen Podcast with one of my buddies, Sgt. Dave Matthews who was with the Florida National Guard.

The topic was military women and veterans. You would think that since women have fought for this country...before it was one, they would not be regarded as second class anything, but they are.

The general public has twisted ideas about them. Take a man and woman, sitting together, each with a military hat on, the male is thanked for his service, while the woman is lucky to get a reluctant smile. It is the same when they hear about a female veteran with PTSD.

Hear about a male veteran with PTSD and right away, folks assume combat. Hear about a female veteran with PTSD and they think sexual assault. Even now researchers and reporters point to that when offering facts, instead of acknowledging that women are exposed to most of the same traumas males endure...and males are also exposed to sexual assaults too!
In this episode, Dave mentioned a woman during the Revolutionary War who strapped down her breasts so that she could serve next to the males. We did not get to talk more about her, but this is the woman we were talking about.
Deborah Sampson became a hero of the American Revolution when she disguised herself as a man and joined the Patriot forces. She was the only woman to earn a full military pension for participation in the Revolutionary army.
When we talk about our fabulous females, all things are considered and they are equally worthy of honor for their service. The percentage, while growing, remains a barrier to healing, that does not have to be there. We are doing what we can to break that down by helping you #BreakTheSilence so you hear it is possible to #TakeBackYourLife and be defined by what you decide to do from this moment onward!

HEAR HER ROAR on Remember The Fallen Podcast

Friday, December 14, 2018

Minnesota soldier committed suicide after assault and cyberbullying

Army Secretary Orders Changes to Policy after Minnesota Soldier's Sexual Assault, Suicide


WDIO News
December 14, 2018
During that time, the documents reveal the 21-year-old suffered from harassment by her attacker and from cyberbullying by fellow soldiers and their spouses.
The Secretary of the U.S. Army has directed staff to update policies regarding the treatment of victims of sexual assault who request to be transferred off-base, according to a letter sent to members of Congress from Minnesota.

The letter comes months after a KSTP investigation into the death of Pvt. Nicole Burnham, a solider from Andover, who died by suicide after being sexually assaulted, harassed and bullied.

Army documents obtained by KSTP show it took 82 days to transfer Pvt. Burnham from her base in South Korea after she reported the sexual assault.
read more here

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

1,300 sexual trauma claims mishandled in 2017!

This story pisses me off more than I am allowed to say on a site open to all ages. When I read it, all I could think about what all the years members of the military were abused by their own and the abused by the departments that was supposed to help them and give them justice. 

I think about the older veterans I've know over the years suffering this triple betrayal, and the younger ones who followed because nothing was done before they were even born.

Now this part from a USA Today article made my head explode with all of their voices screaming for justice!
"The drop-off in focus on such claims at the VA coincided with a national uproar over a massive backlog in benefits claims at the agency. The backlog, which reached as many as 600,000 claims in 2013, had been reduced to 80,000 by the end of last year."
The crucial reality is, everyone did not care enough over a decade ago...and we need to take a seriously look at how much we really do care!


Sexual trauma claims by veterans wrongly denied by VA, investigation finds
USA TODAY
Donovan Slack
Aug. 21, 2018
Such pledges were met with caution Tuesday among veteran advocates and assault survivors like Ruth Moore. She was raped twice by a supervisor in the Navy and endured repeated denials of her claims by the VA over 23 years.


WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs improperly denied hundreds of military sexual trauma claims in recent years, leaving potentially thousands of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder without benefits, a VA inspector general investigation found.

Last year alone, the investigation found the agency mishandled as many as 1,300 sexual trauma claims. Some 12,000 veterans file for sexual trauma-related PTSD benefits each year.

The inspector general found the VA failed to order required medical exams in more than half the cases, didn’t obtain necessary records to back up the claims in hundreds of cases or denied claims despite contradictory evidence.

The agency neglected to provide adequate training to employees vetting the claims. It stopped conducting quality audits of the sexual trauma claims process in 2015. And the following year, it shunted the claims into a national queue where staff without any specialized knowledge processed them.

The VA has specialized processing for other types of claims, including those related to traumatic brain injuries or from prisoners of war.

The inspector general recommended the agency review denied claims, reintroduce specialized vetting and audits, and provide better training for claims processors.

In response to the findings, Paul Lawrence, the VA’s top benefits official, said the agency will comply with the recommendations.
read more here
So where was the outrage in 2006?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

WWII Veteran Hoped Things Would Be Different for Military Women Today

Marine scandal hits home for Ohio women veterans
The Columbus Dispatch
Rita Price
March 10, 2017
"You raised your head a little higher, you clicked your heels a little harder and you walked on," Gilliam told an audience at the Ohio History Center. "Today, I'm hoping, it is different."
At 94, World War II veteran Ruby Gilliam would like to be able to say she outlived the problem. But she knows that the fight against discrimination and harassment are far from over for America's military women.

"I used to think, 'Someday, this will change,''' Gilliam said. "There we were, serving our country. It was all very disturbing. It still is."

A panel of female veterans — some more than a half-century younger than Gilliam — joined her Friday to celebrate Women's History Month and to share their stories of struggle and accomplishment, of hope and honor.

Gilliam was a young widow who had lost her husband to the war when she shocked her family and joined the military herself. She still considers the moment she donned her WAVES uniform the proudest of her life, more so, she said to laughter, than giving birth.

That certainty made the slurs hurt and bewilder all the more. With few avenues for complaint, she and others tried to respond with determination.
read more here

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Naked Female Marine Photos Shake Corps

A nude photo scandal has shaken the entire Marine Corps
Marine Corps Times
By: Jeff Schogol and Andrew deGrandpre
March 5, 2017
There's a "bounty on pictures of my daughter," Brennan told Marine Corps Times. "It has been suggested that my wife should be raped as a result of this, and people are openly suggesting I should be killed. ... Can you imagine being one of the victims?
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Marine Corps is investigating allegations an unspecified number of military personnel and veterans allegedly shared nude photos of female colleagues as part of a perverse social media network that promotes sexual violence.

The allegations were first reported by The War Horse and published Saturday via Reveal, part of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Potentially hundreds of Marines may be caught up in the scandal, which has shaken top Pentagon officials and prompted death threats against the Marine veteran who disclosed it. An undetermined number of nude photos were distributed online by way of a Facebook group titled Marines United, according to the report. The community has nearly 30,000 members, mostly comprising active-duty U.S. Marines, Marine Corps veterans and British Royal Marines.

The unseemly episode, which has played out almost exclusively online, is deeply embarrassing for the Marine Corps and the Defense Department, proud institutions that, like many college campuses around the country, have struggled to curtail widespread problems with sexual assault. At the same time, it exposes an unsettling rift within a segment of American society consistently regarded as reputable, honorable and trustworthy.
read more here

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Women Veterans Complicated Road "After Fire"

‘AFTER FIRE’ AND WOMEN VETERANS’ COMPLICATED ROAD TO HEALING TRAUMA
NEWSWEEK
BY LUCY WESTCOTT
11/16/16
“The culture of the military is about sucking it up. It’s not about you, it’s about the mission. It’s about life and death. They have to be ready for a life or death situation, and they have to put their unit, their team, ahead of themselves,” says Huckabee.
Veteran Laly Cholak is seen on Capitol Hill in a still from the new documentary "After Fire."
AFTER FIRE/BRITTANY HUCKABEE
Like everyone who deals with trauma, women veterans who return to the U.S. after serving in the military have their own ways of healing.

For some, it’s small bottles of refrigerated wine, talking with friends and family or keeping their experiences locked inside. For others, like Valerie Sullivan, the focus of the new documentary After Fire, it’s spending six hard months training for a bodybuilding competition. After Fire, directed by Brittany Huckabee, follows women veterans based in San Antonio who survived military sexual trauma. All are actively involved in helping veterans, whether it’s fellow MST survivors or lobbying with older male veterans on Capitol Hill.

Women are the fastest-growing group of military veterans, and one in every five new military recruits is a woman. Yet 4.3 percent of active-duty women say they experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2014. That number is likely higher due to fears about reporting incidents and the retaliation that so often follows; a December 2014 report found that the estimated number of rape and violent sexual assaults experienced by women in the military was higher than previously thought. Around 90 percent of female vets don’t use Veterans Affairs Department health care, according to the film.
read more here

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Army and Congress Efforts on Rape Make it Worse for Victims Still

In the war against sexual assault, the Army keeps shooting itself in the foot
Washington Post
By Craig Whitlock
December 19, 2015

FORT STEWART, Ga. — To mark the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, the 188th Infantry Brigade held a potluck luncheon here at the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River. The deputy commander reminded his soldiers they were all “responsible for bringing an end to sexual assault and harassment,” according to the brigade’s Facebook account.

What most of the soldiers didn’t know was that the deputy commander, Lt. Col. Michael D. Kepner II, was himself facing court-martial on charges that he had sexually harassed and assaulted a female lieutenant on his staff.

Despite repeated complaints from the victim and other officers, Kepner’s chain of command violated Army rules and allowed him to stay in a leadership post for at least eight months while he was under criminal investigation, internal Army emails and memos show. He later pleaded guilty to some of the charges and is serving time in a military prison.
read more here
Well, Congress is trying to do something about it, or kind-of-sort-of.
A Pennsylvania lawmaker who says he continues to hear many complaints about sexual harassment and abuse from women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan wants the Defense Department to do more to stop mistreatment and provide more care for victims.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a Monday letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that harassment and assault of military women, especially in combat zones, is a “scourge” that needs to be eliminated.
Dose that sound like something new? It isn't. It was reported by Army Times way back in 2008. 

Congress followed up by holding, you guess it, another hearing on what they thought was such a serious issue they had to get someone to account for all of it. Dr. Kaye Whitley didn't show up.
“It’s an oversight hearing on sexual assault in the military. As such, we thought it was proper to hear from the director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. ... Inexplicably, the Defense Department — and you, apparently — have resisted.”
So, Congress held another hearing since Whitley was "director of the office of sexual assault prevention and response."

By January of 2009 the DOD announced it was "expanding its attention to sexual abuse cases by adding prosecutors, rearranging its criminal investigative unit and stepping up training to change behavior.
"Geren approved the hiring of 15 new prosecutors and five prosecutor trainers for the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG). The JAG also will hire seven experts in sexual assault litigation training to help prosecutors and train Army lawyers around the world."
What we soon learned was that the "seriousness" of those efforts didn't really turn out to be true at all. As a matter of fact, Military sexual assault victims raped twice, forced to pay for care.
But the Office of Inspector General at the department found this year that an outpatient clinic in Austin, Tex., had repeatedly charged veterans, mostly women, for those services. Based on concerns that the practice may be more widespread, the office decided to expand its review to a sampling of veterans health care centers and clinics nationwide.
But even Chaplains were not taking any of this seriously.
In February 2009, she reported for active duty training and, upon seeing her rapist, went into shock.

"She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain," the lawsuit reads. "When SGT Havrilla met with the military chaplain, he told her that 'it must have been God's will for her to be raped' and recommended that she attend church more frequently."
Another young victim was tossed out after she was raped.
"admitted to the investigator taking her statement that she’d been socializing the previous night at an officer’s club, got drunk, and accepted a ride from a man whom she’d only just met.

The officer sounded skeptical. You went with this man to a hotel, she remembers the officer saying, and you want me to believe that it wasn’t consensual?

Then, before the young private had time to think it through, she blurted out the words she’d been warned never to say in the military: “I’m gay…”

Eight weeks later, plagued by anxiety and flashbacks, she was ordered to pack her bags and was handed a plane ticket home. Her discharge sheet read: “homosexual admission.”
Should remove any doubt as to why most of these "assaults" were not reported.
The Defense Department has estimated that 86 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, an indication that some women are worried about the effect reporting an assault may have on their career and that they mistrust the military prosecution system. Nearly 3,200 sexual assaults were reported in the military last year.
Because even when they did try to get justice, tried to get Congress to actually act for their sake, they were just left to worry what would happen to them afterwards could be worse than the rape itself.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A former subordinate to an Army general facing sex crimes charges testified Tuesday that the general started an affair with her in Iraq and later threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone. The woman says she was honored at first by the attention from Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who she said was highly regarded. They first had sex in 2008 at a forward operating base in Iraq, she said. "I was extremely intimated by him. Everybody in the brigade spoke about him like he was a god," she said. The AP does not name victims of alleged sexual assaults.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Vietnam Veteran With PTSD At Bay Pines for 36 Years

Florida VA Clinic Provides Care for Vets With PTSD 
Department of Defense
By Shannon Collins
DoD News Features
November 24, 2015
Taylor, a Marine Corps and Vietnam War veteran who’s worked with the VA for more than 36 years and has PTSD himself, said he’s seen many positive changes in the VA for the treatment of PTSD.
Army veteran Manuel “Al” Alcantara, right, and Vietnam veteran Jim Alderman share stories beside a duck pond after a day’s therapy at the inpatient post-traumatic stress disorder clinic at Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bay Pines, Fla., Oct. 29, 2015. DoD photo by EJ Hersom
BAY PINES, Fla., November 24, 2015 — For veterans who may have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to wartime trauma or military sexual trauma, their first step is to contact their local U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center or outpatient center.

But if veterans require more care, they can voluntarily check in at inpatient centers such as the Bay Pines VA Medical Center here.

Bay Pines has a 14-bed residential program for veterans with war-caused PTSD and a separate wing for veterans with PTSD caused by military sexual trauma.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ PTSD website, military sexual trauma, or MST, is the term used by the VA to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that a veteran experienced during his or her military service.

The definition for military sexual trauma used by the VA comes from federal law -- Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D. Under that law, MST is defined as: "Psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training."

Sexual harassment is further defined by the law as "repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character."

Bay Pines is the only VA inpatient facility that treats PTSD caused by MST, said Tony Taylor, program manager for the warzone PTSD program at Bay Pines.
read more here

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Women Veterans Long Journey Home and Long Lines For Care

The VA woman problem
New York Times
Helen Thorpe
August 15, 2015
The 94th Annual Veterans Day Parade in New York City, 2013.
Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
On Sept. 11, 2001, Desma Brooks was a single mother of three in her mid-20s who served part-time in the Indiana Army National Guard. Watching the attack, she wondered if she might be assigned to a support role on the home front. Instead, she served two yearlong deployments – one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. During the second, while driving a military vehicle, she hit a roadside bomb. Brooks returned home with a mild case of traumatic brain injury and a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Of the almost 22 million veterans in the United States today, more than 2 million are women, and of those, more than 635,000 are enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs system – double the number before 9/11.

Women are the fastest growing group of veterans treated by the VA, and projections show that women will make up more than 16 percent of the country’s veterans by midcentury.

Like Brooks, many female veterans are returning home with PTSD – the No. 1 complaint among women at VA health facilities. Hypertension and depression are the next largest diagnostic categories. And 1 in 5 female veterans treated reported experiencing military sexual trauma.
Disabled American Veterans, an advocacy and assistance group, recently issued a report called “Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home,” which includes a list of recommended changes. Among them are establishing a culture of respect for women, providing access to peer support networks, requiring every Veterans Affairs clinic to have a gynecologist on staff, removing barriers to mental health services, and adding gender-sensitive mental health programs aimed at women. “One of the most perplexing problems is a culture in V.A. that is not perceived by women as welcoming, and does not afford them or their needs equal consideration,” said Joy J. Ilem, the group’s deputy national legislative director, at this year’s Senate hearing. read more here

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Female Veterans Not Getting Proper Help For PTSD

Feds: Female Veterans Battling to Get PTSD Treatment
Officials say cases are often linked to sexual trauma
KRGV News
Apr 08, 2015

WESLACO - Female veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may not be getting the help they need, according to federal investigators.

Investigators looked at the Veterans Benefits Administration, which is within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

One of the administration's jobs is to help female vets who suffered sexual trauma while in the military and who may now suffer from PTSD as a result.

Investigators found that there's much more work to be done.

Serving in the military is one of the toughest, most dangerous jobs in the world. Still, the real war sometimes is at home.

It's estimated that 20 percent of female veterans returning home after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. That's about 56,000 women.
read more here

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Air Force Veteran Reduced to Tears, Coach Apologizes

Report: Malzahn apologizes to veteran after alleged player harassment 
CBS Sports
By Jerry Hinnen
College Football Writer
February 18, 2015
Gus Malzahn reportedly apologized to veteran Ashley Ozyurt. (USATSI)
Gus Malzahn has reportedly issued an apology to an Air Force veteran and current Auburn student whose Facebook account of being verbally harassed by two Tigers players has gone viral.

Ashley Ozyurt, 25, spoke to television station WTVM on Tuesday night, identifying herself as the writer of the post on the "Service Dog Memes" Facebook page. Ozyurt uses her service dog, she told WTVM, to help her deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after a sexual assault during her time in the military.

According to the Facebook post, two Auburn players whistled and made kissing noises at her service dog as they traveled to class, and when Ozyurt asked them to stop, they allegedly responded with verbal abuse and profanity.

"Auburn University condemns any behavior that is demeaning to those with disabilities," university communications official Mike Clardy said in a statement. "We're investigating the reports and will take all appropriate action once all the facts are known."
read more here

Friday, December 5, 2014

Maine Sheriff Tries to Prevent Veterans From Serving Jail Time for PTSD

Oakland Army veteran’s nightmare began with sexual abuse in the military
Roxane Montgomery is trying to get her life together with help from local police, including Kennebec County Sheriff Randy Liberty.
Central Maine
BY AMY CALDER STAFF WRITER
December 4, 2014
Speaking at her parents’ home in Oakland recently, Army veteran Roxane Marie Montgomery speaks about being raped by two fellow servicemen while serving in the Persian Gulf War. She says that attack and the military’s response led to a downward spiral that involves alcohol addiction and arrests.
Staff photo by David Leaming

The pain runs deep for Army veteran Roxane Marie Montgomery.

The Oakland woman has been out of the military 19 years, but the trauma from being raped by two soldiers remains.

“I’m working at it,” she said. “It’s hard.”

Montgomery, 47, now lives day to day, plagued by an acute alcohol problem that she says was precipitated by the sexual trauma she experienced while serving in the armed forces.

She has been arrested many times for alcohol-related incidents, including driving under the influence, violating conditions of release and misuse of 911. She has been in and out of rehabilitation, sees a psychiatrist regularly and gets support from VA Healthcare Systems-Togus.

So far, nothing has worked. She does well for a while, then falls off the wagon.

Everyone who has been trying to help her — officials from the Oakland Police Department, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney’s office — say she is intelligent, accomplished, personable and has great potential, but she can’t seem to move past her demons.
FRIENDS WHO COUNT
Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty, who at the Kennebec County jail opened the only veterans block in a Maine jail, knows Montgomery and her situation well. He suffered military-related post traumatic stress disorder himself and was the focus of “A Matter of Duty,” an MPBN television documentary about post-traumatic stress disorder that also featured Montgomery.

Liberty said many veterans suffering from PTSD self-medicate with alcohol or opiates, have problems with anger management, become disorderly, get involved in domestic violence and commit burglaries and robberies.

Liberty and others who try to work with veterans — including courts, police, crisis workers and others — have a heightened awareness of their problems, share information and try to find alternatives when one approach does not work.

About 140,000 veterans were incarcerated in state and federal prisons as of 2004, the last year for which data was available in a 2012 report, “Healing a Broken System,” by the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance. The report said a national survey of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans found that 9 percent of respondents reported being arrested since returning from service, with the arrests more strongly linked to substance abuse and mental health conditions such as PTSD.
read more here

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Documentary focuses on military women

Service, the Film When Women come Marching Home
WFIT.com
By TERRI WRIGHT
January 23, 2014

SERVICE, the film, portrays the courage of several women veterans as they transition from active duty to their civilian lives. We see the horrific traumas they faced, their invisible as well as physical injuries and all their challenges in receiving benefits and care.


From the deserts of Afghanistan to rural Tennessee, from Iraq to New York City, we watch these women wrestle with prosthetics, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma.

The documentary is told through their voices as they speak from The documentary is told through their voices as they speak from their kitchens, bedrooms, grocery stores and therapy sessions. Their pictures and videos shot in Iraq and Afghanistan speak volumes.


If you go to the link and listen to the radio interview, you'll hear about a young soldier. Both legs lost and another soldier taking over the job of breathing for the wounded friend. The wounded friend was a female soldier.

With that new report consider this. A Congressman thinks that wives should submit to their husbands. Wonder if he'd say that same thing face to face with the female soldier above?

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), a Vietnam veteran, explains in his book that families, like the military command, need a leadership structure in which every person has a role. He says the wife's role, according to the Bible, is to be obedient to her husband.

A woman should submit to her husband? Hum. My husband and I do it a bit differently. Both of us work together, care about what the other wants, needs and even though we do not agree all the time, we've been married since 1982. His thoughts come from Ephesians 5:22-33 but that was during a time when they were still dealing with men being able to have more than one wife. The Bible also does not take into account many other cultures where women were trained to be fighters to protect the homeland while the men were out fighting other wars.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

One fifth of OEF and OIF female veterans show signs of MST

One-fifth of female veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan show signs of sexual trauma
Many women aren't comfortable with the VA, and don't seek treatment
Center for Public Integrity
By Caitlin Cruz Asha Anchan
5 hours ago

At least one in five female veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has screened positive for military sexual trauma (MST) once back home, Department of Veterans Affairs records show. And this may understate the crisis, experts say, because this number only counts women who go to the VA for help.

Young female veterans — those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — often don’t show up for their first VA appointments, if they show up at all, said Ann LeFevre, MST coordinator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California. “They think they’re alone and they don’t want to talk about it,” LeFevre said. “Especially with new returners, it takes a lot to get them on the VA campus. It can remind them of their base where the assault occurred.”

The assault itself defies the discipline and values of the armed forces, but the problem is exacerbated, experts say, when victims report an assault and their allegations are met with skepticism and possible retaliation.

Even after their military service is over, many sexual assault victims are reluctant to approach the VA, a system intertwined with the military and perceived at times as prescribing drugs instead of meeting their treatment needs.

“There’s a disconnect between what survivors believe they need and the educated treatment community as to what is necessary and helpful,” said Mylea Charvat, a fellow in clinical neuroscience with the Stanford School of Medicine.
But many veterans feel lost in the void between these two large bureaucracies.

Women like Jessie de Leon and Corey Barrows are veterans who feel the military failed them — not only because the assaults occurred, but also because of what they consider inadequate responses once they returned from their deployments. As a result, they sought their own means of treatment.

“For a while it’s just like I was numb to the world. Just fake happiness, drug-induced happiness,” said de Leon, who was raped while serving as an Army medic in Bamberg, Germany, from 2007 to 2009. “I didn’t realize that this process was going to be more hindering to me in trying to recover from it than it was helping me.”

As a medic, she examined soldiers and their families at the health clinic in Germany and prepared soldiers to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. She also comforted families who lost soldiers in the war.

But back home in Florida, de Leon found no comfort with therapists at the West Palm Beach VA. They didn’t seem to understand the impact of her rape. Their recommended treatment consisted of prescription drugs for sleeping, anxiety and depression.
read more here

Monday, May 20, 2013

85,000 veterans were treated last year by VA tied to military sexual abuse

AP IMPACT: Thousands of military sex abuse victims seek VA health care, disability benefits
By Associated Press
May 20, 3:41 AM

WASHINGTON — More than 85,000 veterans were treated last year for injuries or illness stemming from sexual abuse in the military, and 4,000 sought disability benefits, underscoring the staggering long-term impact of a crisis that has roiled the Pentagon and been condemned by President Barack Obama as “’’shameful and disgraceful.”

A Department of Veterans Affairs accounting released in response to inquiries from The Associated Press shows a heavy financial and emotional cost involving vets from Iraq, Afghanistan and even back to Vietnam, and lasting long after a victim leaves the service.

Sexual assault or repeated sexual harassment can trigger a variety of health problems, primarily post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. While women are more likely to be victims, men made up nearly 40 percent of the patients the VA treated last year for conditions connected to what it calls “military sexual trauma.”

It took years for Ruth Moore of Milbridge, Maine, to begin getting treatment from a VA counseling center in 2003 — 16 years after she was raped twice while she was stationed in Europe with the Navy. She continues to get counseling at least monthly for PTSD linked to the attacks and is also considered fully disabled.

“We can’t cure me, but we can work on stability in my life and work on issues as they arrive,” Moore said.
read more here

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Therapy at Roseburg VA helps veterans suffering from PTSD

Therapy at Roseburg VA helps veterans suffering from PTSD
Inka Bajandas
The News-Review
August 5, 2012

Gaila Lovelady was a teenager learning to be an Air Force jet engine mechanic when she accepted a ride home from her teacher.

Instead of taking her home, he drove in the opposite direction, stopped the car and raped her.

It happened 33 years ago, but Lovelady was haunted by painful memories that were debilitating and led her to abuse drugs. Now 50 and living in Crescent City, Calif., she never made peace with the trauma until recently.

“You wouldn't believe the parts of my life that were affected by it,” she said.

Lovelady found relief after taking part in a therapy program at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center that hones in on a single traumatic event and forces veterans to relive the experience.

The therapy had a powerful affect on her, Lovelady said.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “It makes you think of different ways to look at your trauma. It makes you OK with your trauma.”

Lovelady and other veterans learned to cope with traumatic experiences through cognitive processing therapy, said Bryan Nestripke, clinical director of post-traumatic stress disorder programs at the Roseburg VA.

The hospital started offering the therapy, which typically lasts 12 sessions, last year, and veterans are taking advantage of the service even more this year, he said.

Cognitive processing therapy helps veterans face their traumas head-on, said Kathryn Dailey, a licensed clinical social worker who offers the therapy at the Roseburg VA.

The therapy forces patients to confront their memories, she said.
read more here

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Family sues Bay Pines VA after suicide with medications

Lawsuit: Bay Pines VA sends suicidal woman three months worth of pain pills
By William R. Levesque, Times Staff Writer
Posted: May 15, 2012

TAMPA — The Bay Pines VA Medical Center mailed a three-month supply of pain medication to a Treasure Island woman with a history of suicide threats who died after overdosing on the pills, a lawsuit filed this month says.

Linda Abrams Dresel, 56, an Army veteran who came to prominence in the 1990s as a supporter of anti-government causes, died May 9, 2009, at her home after she ingested the entire supply of pills, said the suit filed by her husband.

The former Indianapolis lawyer was better known by the name Linda Thompson, which she apparently discarded after her marriage to a Pinellas County man three years ago.

Her brother, Stephen Capps, said in an interview Tuesday that the pill bottle found after her death showed a physician's assistant at Bay Pines wrote the prescription. Capps said his sister had been committed to Bay Pines in Seminole six times under the Baker Act for suicidal threats in the month prior to her death.
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Navy veteran talks about being male and raped

Formerly Homeless Veteran Embraced by Creative Community
04/10/2012
Jim Terpstra is a Navy veteran who happens to be a very talented writer. For a reason he reveals in the video below, Jim became homeless, and while struggling to get his life back on track, contacted The Veterans Project about our mentoring program.
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