As you all know I am getting ready for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. Many of you who are fellow MST survivors and bloggers have given me permission to use your words and I am thankful. Your words, our words, will bring hope to other survivors and education to those who treat MST.
I have been reading and reading – your blogs that I have already read looking for the type of writings that people really need to hear. I find them over and over again. Even more so, I read your words and I feel your pain, our pain and our journey’s and our victories. Some of the words hurt so bad I have to stop for a while – come back later. I am not sharing our most intimate stories of our rapes…the truth about what happened to us is that all of our assaults are the same and all of our assaults are different. As my role of advocate has increased I have discovered that some people out there just want to hear about the rape – like they are getting some sort of sick pleasure out of it. I sometimes look at their faces and I wonder, “How many victims have you created?” So I don’t share the rape stories. I share the stories of courage, the stories of advocacy, the stories of how we are changing the world. As I am reading through the blogs I am seeing something that I already knew was there – but I hadn’t really seen before.
Jay started his blog and I found it one day. His words gave me such courage! I wrote to him and we began a real friendship in the virtual world. I then began this blog and I told Brigid that she had to do it too. That was the beginning of Enemy in the Wire. Then Myst found us and she began her own blog “One Sailors MST Recovery Blog.” There are too many out there to list – but most of them are on my blogroll. We are taking care of one another – where other systems have failed for whatever reason. We are our own Peer Support Community.
I have spoken about the need for Peer Support for MST Survivors before. It is because I have been rereading your blogs that I decided to take a crazy step. Some of which I can talk about and some of which I have to be very careful what I say…
A few days ago I made a “contact” because of something that I posted on a closed access MST site. This “contact” seems very, very nice and when I say connected I mean connected. This is a person who can make a real difference. If you have been watching the Senate Sub-Committee Hearings on MST and treatment you know that the Senate Sub-Committee is doing an awesome job…but in some ways they are talking to the Generals running the war. They are great Generals – they really, really care – but they are still the Generals.
As we know – the military works this way…(please excuse the Army terms…they are the only ones I know)
There is a War…the President calls the Joint Chiefs and says – “How is it going?” Joint Chiefs say – “Going fine Mr. President!”
The Joint Chiefs call the General…General says “Going Fine!”
General asks the Base Commander, Base Commander call the Battalion Commander, Battalion Commander calls the Company Commander – “Going great, Sir!” The Company Commander asks the Platoon Leaders – Platoon Leaders ask the Platoon Sergeants…same answer.
The Squad Leader out on the front line asks the PFC in his squad – “How is it going?” PFC says, “We are short on water, ammo is running low, we have two casualties and we have a broken vehicle.” (In the Army it is called the LACE report – liquid, ammo, casualties and equipment)
General comes down asks that same PFC how it is going, PFC says, “Going Great, Sir – I love the Army!!”
Well – I am the PFC that just told the “General” the truth today. Not to blame, accuse or to point a finger. I told the truth about how to fix what needs fixing. I am way…way…way…outside of my chain-of-command. I didn’t tell anybody about it, except you, because I figure that if there is no knowledge of the event – there is no responsibility for it. The only person they can blame is me – because I am the only person responsible for what was sent.
I took an oath. First I took an oath to be a soldier – later I took an oath to be an NCO.
“No one is more professional than I. I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “The Backbone of the Army”. I am proud of the Corps of noncommissioned officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.
Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a noncommissioned officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my Soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.
Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my Soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders!”
There are some things you will notice in there – for those who have never read the Army NCO Creed.
Accomplish the Mission – Take Care of the Soldiers.
Never use my rank for my personal gain
Loyal to those I serve
I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders.
That is what I did today. I took action that I feel is appropriate in the form of a situational report from the front lines. Someone has to tell the truth – for the benefit of us all. I didn’t say things that were bad – I just made suggestions to make something better – greater…more successful.
However, as we all know – sometimes things done with the greatest of intentions get an ass chewed by a rabid dog. I think it will be okay – but I have to admit that I am shaking inside. I’m afraid of what will happen next. I believe in a good outcome…but we all know how that sometimes goes.
My defense for my choice – my Oath has no expiration date. When I took that oath – I took it for life. Not just my life in the Army…but for the rest of my life.
We who are out there advocating, fighting, praying, searching, begging and demanding for justice. We are the ones in the trenches, bandaging the wounded, trying to stop the bleeding, trying to get help for them…the medics to the invisible and silent wounded. We are the ones who bear the battle.
My oath has no expiration date – I will speak truth – no matter what the cost.