Archive for the ‘Sexual Harrassment’ Category

Trench Warfare

December 6, 2013

Hello, Friends.

It has been a while since I posted – I apologize for that. Life has been busy and I have been struggling. As you know – I was not hired for the Peer Support job. I have actually had three other interviews for other jobs in the system…three interviews – three rejection notices.

It wears on me. Even my boss is stunned – she can’t believe no one has “snatched me up.” She admits she dreads that day. What is really disturbing is when I find out that the person who got the job isn’t as qualified or doesn’t have the experience that I do.

I know in my heart it isn’t me – but let’s face it…the brain likes to tell me other things. The brain says, “You aren’t smart enough, you aren’t good enough, your just not anything enough.”

Then things happen like today. I had a visit with a special Veteran who reminded me that I changed his life. I made an impact – I did something special that no one else has ever done. It is moments like those that make me wonder that I am not “stuck” – I am blessed. Maybe I won’t move up until someone needs me. On the other hand, my husband reminded me that if I would just “not be so much of an advocate, if I would just be quiet, if I would not rock the boat.” maybe I would get promoted.

I have also been bummed that some of the Legislation we are working on has been trapped in committee because no one in Washington can seem to get their crap together on the other issues. Nope – no matter how hard certain people are trying…good MST legislation is stuck. It angers me…It makes me weep for those who are waiting.

It reminded me of trench warfare. I have spent time as both a field medic and a hospital medic. Being a hospital medic is awesome! Three squares a day, clean sheets, comfy rooms…no field gear to speak of. White dresses with white pantyhose and white shoes. No time away from family. Being a field medic is sort of lousy – even in peace time. Weeks in the field, cold MRE’s, shitty coffee – when you are lucky enough to get coffee! No sleep, hours of boredom followed by moments of sheer panic when you are called into action, followed by hours of boredom. Or worse – hours of useless training followed by hours of useless training. Dirty boots, dirty face, dirty clothes. If you are lucky you might get to rack out for an hour or two. If you are really lucky – you might even find space that is warm…or cool…depending on the climate.

The difference between the hospital and the trench is who reaches the wounded first. In trench warfare the only ones who can save the “wounded” are those who are in the trench with them – cold, muddy, dirty, tired. No matter what happens in the hospital – it is those on the line that are the ones that will make a difference.

I had a person in a local store the other day – a stranger to me – suffer a seizure. I just happened to be near the customer service desk when they paged it out. Being a small town – I offered to do what I could until the ambulance arrived. The man had cut his face in the fall, was no longer seizing but was very confused and agitated. I knelt beside him and talked to him, kept him still as the pool of blood got larger around us. They brought me gloves to put on and I wanted to put pressure on the wound but anything agitated him further. A woman, a nurse, arrived on the scene. She would not touch him and when she did – she made them get her a hand wipe. She refused the gloves and just slipped paper towel under him. She acted like she cared – but she wouldn’t touch him. There was blood. I held him until the ambulance arrived, amid the blood, and spoke softly to him. Wounded is wounded – either by blood or by spirit.

The trench is a hard place to be – you are constantly reminded of what has happened to you, what is happening to others and the things you cannot change. You know the enemy – you see the enemy – but you can’t touch them…they are in the wire and they practically mock you as you try to stop the bleeding.

I will stay in the trench – I will man the wire – I will hold the line. I will save as many as I can – no matter who I piss off in the process. Maybe I will spend the rest of my life, the rest of my career in the trench. It will be okay – I will be okay. Someone has to stop the bleeding, bind up the wound, minister to the heart and to the hurt.

There are many of us out here – we read one another’s blogs, we send messages and emails. We are the medics in the trenches. I am grateful for you – because you lift me up when I am in pain.

Peace,

Joan

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Triggers

September 2, 2013

Hi all, Prodigal Brigid here. I feel the need to share something that has happened to me, and set me way, way, way back in my recovery. I thought I was doing really well. Even the review board didn’t want to give me the full 30% I was entitled to for the MST I suffered for over a decade. They said I was too well adjusted. Too well adjusted, but not able to drive 50 miles to see my best friend. Too well adjusted, but I deadbolt my door the second I get home, and check several time throughout the day/night to make sure it is locked. Too well adjusted, that I will not open the door for anybody, period, unless the text or call me and let me know they are coming over and when. Too well adjusted.

I’ve got news for them. I am not well adjusted. I am a blubbering mess, terrified, out of my head. And back in therapy again, and all my meds have increased, some doubled. I am also on Worker’s comp now, and am possibly taking an intermittent leave of absence. Can’t go to the grocery store. Can’t sleep. Can’t make it a day without crying. And why? Triggers.

Here I am trying to help others, and now I am just a big ball of jello. Never thought I would be susceptible to this, but here I am. Once a very strong, brave, indestructible woman, and all the doctors and authority figures just keep on asking me if I am suicidal, or want to do harm to myself. Uh, no, harm was done to me. But the thought started crossing my mind a few days ago.

Long story short, I got molested by a woman at work. I have no idea who she is, I never saw her. And I froze and panicked after she whispered in my ear, to make sure I knew she had done this intentionally. That one single incident has set me back, almost worst than when I was gang raped 25 years ago. I can’t explain it, but this one single stupid incident has me terrified. Is she going to do it again? She would be a fool to do so, because I will harm her if I figure out who she is. Mt therapist says it was a case of bullying. My employer states even if they find her, it will be my word against hers. 

But the biggest surprise through all of this, my employer is paying for all the meds and therapy, to help me get somewhat back to normal. And they actually are being very decent to me. Maybe there is some hope. 

My psychologist is going to test out a new PTSD therapy on me, one she has never done before. It will be long, and painful, but hopefully will help me never to react like this again. In the meantime, I can only pray for strength. 

Please pray for me,

Brigid

 

The Interview

May 6, 2013

Hello, Friends,

I am stopping in to ask a huge favor! I am in need of your prayers, positive thoughts and happy energy! After years of being “stuck” in my current job…I have an opportunity for a big interview…BIG – I mean really B…I…G!

For the last year I have been exploring the Peer Support certification and receiving formal training for a lot of the work I already do with my VSO and here at EitW. Many of you know that this blog began as a way to digest my own therapy…make sense of my own trauma and as a place to spew into the WWW everything I am feeling or thinking.

As time has gone on…and as more people have taken to reading this blog – we have reached out to others as a kind of a “support group.” We are not alone. Our experiences are different – but we have a choice…we can live or we can die. I don’t necessarily mean a physical form of death…but that happens, too….but a psychological death where the bastards win. I have chosen to live.

In just a few days I will be interviewing for a job, at my same employer, that will allow me to continue doing what I love doing…helping others to find their way out of the darkness. I would be doing Peer Support on a full-time paid basis! My tail is wagging! My tongue is hanging out drooling!!!! There are no words to describe how bad I want this job! I want this job so bad I am prepared to fall down on my knees and beg!

I am good at helping people – that is what I have been told. I love to encourage people and to lift them up. I was a “bullied child.” Constantly, every day – someone would bully me. I was pushed, punched, slapped – I was sexually violated. That hurt – but what really hurt were the words. “You are stupid, worthless, a nerd, a dog a squirrel. You aren’t good enough. You aren’t smart enough. You are a failure. You bring it on yourself – ya know…you squirrel. You’re fugly, ugly, four-eyed freak.” Even writing them sends a chill down my back…I can hear them – those taunts still ring in my ears. Sometimes…it still affects me. When I feel isolated from a group, or different – I can feel the little girl in me curl up and try to hide in the corner.

I had a few close friends. Not many. I had a couple of great teachers I really liked – they liked me too! We spent time together. One of them got me through Chemistry class with a C…since I can’t do math that was a huge accomplishment!

I like to make people feel good with words. All of the people that I have met through this blog have been such an inspiration to me! They push the envelope, they reach out, they open their hearts. They have encouraged me to do the same. I was at a VSO event this weekend and this woman walked up to me and said, “you are Joan…right? I hear you help veterans – can you help me?” Of course – of course I can help. I will do anything to help.

This feels like my shot, my chance – the one thing that will make everything okay. I recently turned down a “dream job” with my church. The money was good enough…but I called my priest and said…”Father, I’m sorry. The job is perfect for me…but something is wrong! I don’t think I am supposed to leave the VA.” He laughed…and then he agreed with me. He thinks I would be perfect for the job – but he is concerned that it would require me leaving the VA – he thinks God has a purpose for me right where I am.

We both had the same concerns. We both had the same worries. You know I always say…there is no such thing as a coincidence!

Three weeks later I get an interview for a job that would allow me to do nothing but encourage and lift up my brothers and sisters who are living with mental illness. A chance to offer support to their families..I know what it is like to be a mother of a mentally ill son who has a drug problem. I know what it is like to be a homeless Veteran with three young children. To live in a domestic violence shelter. To fight with the system for benefits, for help, for support. I know what it means for just one person to believe in you. Just one.

It isn’t about money, or paychecks or benefits. That isn’t why I work at the VA. I’m not saying the VA is perfect – I can tell you a long list of bad experiences, horrible flaws, ugly days. It doesn’t even have to be the VA – I can tell you about horrible people and experiences in private medicine! Expensive medicine with bitchy, mouthy, hateful people working there.

I’m far from perfect – but I try to give every patient one thing…a smile and a kind word. That may be the only thing I have to offer in a day. Maybe something to laugh about. A moment of respect, a moment of understanding or just a squeeze to their hand to let them know that I care. Every place that serves customers is built on one thing and one thing only – the people that work there. You can have the most beautiful facilities, the best equipment and state of the art systems – but if the people spend their days sucking on sour pickles…it doesn’t mean anything. People will forget what you did and what you say – but they will never, ever forget how you make them feel.

I have had some really terrific success stories drawing blood. I know, clerking and drawing blood doesn’t sound like much – but it is where the rubber meets the road. A link in the chain for how people “feel” about the time they spend here. I told one gentleman, who served in Vietnam, that I felt that he was a “hero.” Three months later he came back with a beautiful letter for me. It said that no one had ever called him that, no one had ever thanked him for his service like that. He was driving one day and it just hit him and he bawled so hard he had to pull off the road. We stood in the clinic hall crying our eyes out. I have that letter and I will never, ever part with it.

Let’s face it – the one thing that all of us have in common, as MST Survivors, is the way the perpetrators made us feel. The way the military made us feel – like we are worthless, nothing, that we are the crazy ones! They all made us feel like we were dirt…rags…something to be used and kicked aside. Then – they told us we were crazy, we were nuts! I was diagnosed by a civilian shrink as a “borderline personality disorder with Cluster B traits.” Talk about nuts. Cluster B traits essentially mean that you are a “drama queen” and that everything revolves around you. Like I was paranoid and accusing others of things that didn’t happen.

You know what is funny – “borderline personality disorder with Cluster B traits” has many of the EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Paranoia…check, worried that people are going to hurt you…check. It is partially defined as: extreme “black and white” thinking, instability in relationships, self-image, identity and behavior often leading to self-harm and impulsivity.

In other words – he was saying…”you know, you are bringing a lot of this on yourself.”

What did the VA therapist, psychiatrist and comp and pen people say about it…because I asked my therapist outright!!! She said – no, Joan…you are not borderline personality disorder with cluster B…you are a classic PTSD. Although it took me a really long time to describe myself as having PTSD.

That was quite the moment – I must say. The moment when I realized that it isn’t my fault. That I didn’t “ask for it” or “bring it on myself.” The moment that I realized that I was “normal” – as normal as anyone else that survived this shit. They were the screwed up ones. I’m okay – they are pieces of shit!

Wow – I hope the staff interviewing me doesn’t see this 🙂 Might be the end of the job interview :-)!!

Actually – I’m not afraid of them seeing any of what I have ever written. I care. I care about the Vets I serve. I care about making things in the world right. I may not be able to do much…but I can make it right for the few people I see in a day. Please keep me in your warm thoughts!

Peace,
Joan

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 2, 2013

Here it is, Friends…April again…Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I haven’t had much to say lately – life has been keeping me very, very busy and I am having to make some tough choices right now. The primary one is “do I stay at the VA..or do I take the other position I have been offered?”

Choices…that is what so much of this is about. The choice to be kind or to be cruel. The choice to treat people the way you would want to be treated. The choice to speak out or the choice to stay silent.

I am always kind of “depressed” by this month. It seems that businesses and governement institutions hail other months, Black History Month, Hispanic History Month, Women’s History Month, and any other MONTH they can celebrate. I really like those – I think they are awesome! (Of course – I also love history)

Then we get to Sexual Assault Awareness Month…shhhhhhh! Don’t hang posters, don’t do events, do talk about it. It must be kept quiet…it is embarrassing, it is shameful. Even here we have really dedicated people who keep getting shut down on programming. We don’t want anyone to be “uncomfortable.”

Heaven forbid anyone is uncomfortable! Heaven forbid that they have to look a survivor in the face and acknowledge what happened to them. No – we can’t have that!!!

I would love to march on our local VA’s…but as an employee…that is asking for trouble. I would love to carry signs and shout at the top of my lungs – but the world just doesn’t want to hear it.

Joan

A Poor Definition

December 28, 2012

Hello, Friends.

I have found myself recently in several locations where I have to attempt to define “military sexual trauma.”  The official VA definition according to US Code is below:

It is “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 or active duty for training.” Sexual harassment is further defined as “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”

Wow – talk about a mouth full!  Believe it or not – I was actually my unit’s EO person when I left the unit.  I know…the EO Rep being the one who was victimized is pretty crazy…to say the least.

When I taught EO and Sexual Harrassment I tried to do it in a way that was fun and interesting.  No dry, boring slides for me!!  I believed that if there was an interesting dynamic – that there would be more willingness to listen.  I always started with a inappropriate joke – one that would upset the men and one that would upset the women.  Then we would discuss why they were “offended.”

There are really two types of sexual harrassment:  Quid pro Quo and Hostile Environment. 

Quid pro Quo is literally – this for that.  I see a whole lot of this in the military – and sometimes, because the victim “gained something in return” they don’t really feel that they were assaulted.  Sometimes it is sexual conduct in exchange for better duty, rank or things of a similar nature.  Sometimes it is sexual conduct just to survive!  Servicemembers pressured into sexual contact just so that they can live a normal life.  In some ways I refer to this as the “protective rapist.”  Because you “belong” to someone in the unit – usually of higher rank – you are no longer a target for guys looking for a hookup.  You are off limits.  However, being in an inappropriate relationship isn’t necessarily “rape.”  After all, we control our sexuality by our own choice. 

Hostile Environment is a different matter.  This is when the area that you are working in is completely and totally offensive to you for either your gender or your unwillingness to engage in sexual behavior.  This can be anything from the nude catalog on the wall in the platoon room (yes, males can experience this too – maybe they are offended by a group of women with naked men hanging in the workplace!)  Hostility towards your rank or your position and deliberate attacks on your or your job.  Poor NCOERs when you have done nothing to earn a poor rating.

Perhaps it is easiest to define what sexual harrassment/MST isn’t.  First of all – this is very individually specific at times.  So let’s look at one example.

You are out on a smoke break at the picnic table with members of your platoon.  One of the NCO’s starts telling a dirty joke.  You sit and listen and then complain because you were offended.  Is this sexual harrassment?

No – it’s not.  You could have gotten up and left.  There was nothing holding you there.  It may be an example of “hostile environment” if it reflects the deeper culture of the unit – but sometimes a joke is just a joke.

Let’s look at the same situation in another environment – like a platoon formation.  Now you are bound to stay and listen to the dirty joke.  You cannot leave.  This is that hostile environment that reflects the unit’s culture – if leadership believes it is acceptable to share offensive material to a captive audience.

That isn’t necessarily a male/female thing either.  It can be a religious preference of the person.  Their personally held beliefs cause them to find it offensive.

I have come to believe in the “comfort factor.”  If you are having “creeped out feelings” then you are probably heading into a bad situation.  Don’t be afraid to chronicle the things that are going on.  You will probably never find “justice” from the military – but those supporting documents will give you a leg up with proving your claim at the VA.

Don’t be afraid to speak out, either.  Even in uniform.  Not all leaders are pigs.  For the purpose of this post – I will say not all men are pigs.  Talk to them, quietly and out of the range of others.  They may not even realize they have been offensive! 

I had a similiar situation when I was EO.  Both the female subordinate and the male leader were friends of mine.  The male leader was actually a pretty good guy – he used to make jokes every now and again that he kept me around for “Hot coffee and clean tent floors.”  I was never offended by those jokes because it was a “private” joke – not spoken in front of strangers – and his behavior toward me never indicated that he saw me as less of a soldier than a man.  Well – I will be danged if he didn’t make the same joke to my female friend who had just gotten transferred into the platoon and it seriously offended her.  Of course it would – it was just bad timing and she had never really worked with him.

He truly wanted to make it right.  He apologized profusely to both her and her spouse who was also in the unit.  He explained that it was really meant to be funny and that he was really, really sorry.  It worked itself out.

Was that a “hostile environment?”  I think it was – from her point of view.  But it was not on purpose – it was just a careless word that was later regretted. 

I was so proud of her for stepping forward and making an issue of it.  She set her boundaries – that was good!  Luckily – this leader was a good one – and saw the mistake he had made and took responsibility.  They worked together fine after that.

Unfortunately – not every story ends like that.  It is really too bad.  Of course, this post has nothing to do with rape, but I hope it helps some readers better understand the problems.

More to come!

Joan

Assumptions

November 5, 2012

Hi All,

I wanted to share what happened last Friday. I called the main VA in Iowa City, to set up my follow-up appointment. The woman who answered the phone had absolutely no personality, and acted like she was very irritated she had to answer her phone. Tip one for this lady, if you don’t like answering the phone to schedule appointments, get another job. Duh!

Anyway, she proceeded in the gruff tone, this is the conversation we had:

VA: NAME?

Me: B****

VA: What’s his last 4?

Me: 1234

VA: Oh this isn’t working, was that V as in Vern, or D as in Dog?

Me: B as in BOY

VA: What’s his first name?

Me: (I gave my first name, which could be considered androgynous)

VA: His middle name?

Me: CATHERINE

VA: Oh

Might I state there is no way anyone could ever guess I was a man on the phone, I most definately have a high-pitched, woman’s voice. She never went on to say she was sorry or anything, just seemed even more irritated that I was a woman. I did make the appointment, but did this whole thing just piss me off. I texted Joan and told her, she wasn’t too happy either. I didn’t read in the rule book, or the guides I got from the VA that ALL VETS ARE MEN. I swear, I put up with enough of that crap while I was in, I sure don’t need it now. And I am not all that thrilled to be going to the VA to begin with. I told my co-workers about her, and they were kind of pissed off too. I said with her personality, she was more like a grouchy old nun teaching school 30+ years ago.

Never assume anything. I am going to lodge a complaint when I have my next appt, maybe get her some sensitivity training or another job. I have figured out there are only a few times EVER that anyone is safe to assume the sex of the person the appointment is for. Setting up an OBGYN appointment, or a prostrate exam. Other than that, and you are at risk for making an ass out of yourself, which is what happens when we assume.

Change can’t come fast enough,

Brigid

Really Inconvenient Truths!

September 25, 2012

Hello Friends,

I am so glad to see that Jay’s blog is up and running!   His words are so wise and so true and I wanted to expound on comments that I made there. 

In his latest post Jay talked about this difficulty that we Survivors encounter in the VA and the VBA.  How hard it is to open up to a service officer about what we have endured – how, too many times, we are treated like we did something wrong.

I believe that we make them uncomfortable…very uncomfortable.  You see, we are an in their face reality check!  In their heads they can make up any little fantasy world they desire.  They can say things like, he/she probably asked for it or it was just a false accusation.  Then they have to look at the evidence – the destroyed lives, the damaged bodies, the ruined careers (ours…of course…not the perpetrators!)  Now their little world is shattered – and they have to look at the facts.  The facts are, some soldiers rape…they harrass…they abuse their power and they get away with it.  When they get away with it – they WILL do it again.

We are the really inconvenient truth!  (A thousand pardons to Michael Moore for stealing his movie title)

People want to have these ideas about good soldiers who serve with honor and with courage.  They want these pictures in their heads about band of brothers and idealistic bull shit like that.  Yes – there are soldiers like that!  There are people in the military who will always try to make the right choice no matter what it costs them.  They are good people.  Unfortunately, there are really ugly people out there!

Ugly people, horrible people.   They rape for the power and for control.  If they were civilians they would still be rapists.  They would still be the power and control freak boss that you can’t stand to be around.  The military culture just allows them to go as far as they would like to go.

This weekend I had an opportunity to do some special  duty with some guys in my VSO.  We enjoy one another’s company and we enjoy flipping one another shit.  In fact – it is one of the things that we do best!!

I left that day laughing so hard I nearly wet myself.  I serve with some really terrific guys!  I’m that “annoying little sister” they all have to put up with…so to speak.  It creates that warm, fun and enjoyable feeling of brothers  and that was why I loved the Army.  I was still laughing when I drove home.

Then I started to cry.  I cried for everything that I had lost.  For everything that was taken from me.  There was a time when sitting around with my Army buddies flipping one another shit was the best part of any day.  I felt warm, I felt protected, I felt like I was part of a family.  Then I was “shunned” and everything was gone.  The “family” turned their backs on me.

People will ask, “how long does it take to get over this?”  This isn’t something that goes away.  You don’t expect an amputees arm or leg to grow back, do you?  No!  It is an injury, it is chronic and they learn to live with it…but they won’t wake up one morning and discover it is “All Better” and they have two good legs.  PTSI (Post Traumatic Stress Injuries) are the exact same way.  You don’t wake up one morning and all of the problems are gone.

In physical therapy an amputee can learn to live with his/her leg.  They can learn to live without an arm – how to tie shoelaces with one hand.  In Mental Health Therapy we can learn to live with PTSI – we can learn to get up in the morning, brush our little teeth and move out the door.  We can learn to deal with the nightmares, the flashbacks, the fear, the paranoia and the pain – but we can only tie that “shoelace” with half of ourselves – because the rest of ourselves was damaged or destroyed in that Invisible War we are Veterans of.  No one questions that in Combat PTSI – but they sure want us to get over the sexual assaults and harassment!  I don’t get that!

That is why we are a really inconvenient truth – we have been changed for life – we have been wounded for life.  We aren’t going to “get over it” and “move on.”  Sure – just like an amputee we can lead regular lives – but we will never just “get over it.”  That is what makes them uncomfortable.  You see – if we just “get over it” they can just forget about it.  That is what they want to do.  If we are in their faces – they can’t forget about us – and then they have to deal with us! 

And that – my friends – is a really inconvenient truth!

Peace

Joan

The War On Terror

September 11, 2012

I remember the exact moment I heard about the Twin Towers. I was at work, and someone had heard about it on the radio. I thought it was awfully late to be playing an April Fool’s Day joke on us. Then more and more people started talking about it, so I turned on my radio, because I was sure they were all messing with me. It was like a really bad dream. Shock, disbelief, worry, fear. That is what we all felt. Then some of my co-workers went to the fitness room to watch it unfold on the only TV in the building. I couldn’t will myself to go, I didn’t want to see it. I wanted to crawl into a ball and hide under my desk. How could this happen?

Then I thought of my daughter, and called the school. I suddenly wanted to leave work, so I could go and get her, and wrap my arms around her and hold her until we all woke up from this horrific nightmare. The school informed me that several parents had called, some had come to pick up their children. But they encouraged me to let her stay. They promised me the children were all protected from this news, that they felt it was the parent’s right to tell them about this attack. But what they didn’t know was my little girl was in the library, and they were watching it on the TV there. They were just as confused and frightened as we were.

Then President Bush declared The War On Terror. Those words have been drilled into our brains for more than a decade since the anniversary of 9/11. The War On Terror. What is that really? For me, I fought in my own war on terror. The nightmares, the anxiety attacks, the depression, anger, hoplesness. I fight the war on terror daily in my mind. I was terrorized for more than a decade by several of my fellow soldiers, long before this ‘war on terror’. Why didn’t someone come to rescue me, and stop my terror?

I don’t want to take a single minute away from all of our wonderful  troops (non-predators) who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I never supported this war, but always supported our troops. Think of all the resources we spent on this ‘war’ and how many lives were lost. How many lives were ruined due to injuries/trauma? What did we gain by fighting this war? I don’t think we did. I think we lost more that we can calculate. The predators really were working overtime these last 11 years. So many MST cases, so many VA Claims.

I just wish President Bush would have ended the war on terror in the ranks. He could have, being the Commander-in-Chief. So could President Obama. What is it going to take?

Praying for change,

Brigid

I’m On A Mission

September 7, 2012

About 2 weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Governor Branstadt of Iowa, asking him to make a change in the Iowa National Guard. I pointed out that he was the Commander-In-Chief, like the President, and had the power to stop letting these predators keep on abusing us in the National Guard. I told him the statistics, how this has been going on for years, and how the Iowa National Guard is the worst offender. I begged him to do something, and asked what would he have done if his son had actually served, and been raped. Maybe that is why he hasn’t responded, I do not know. But that isn’t going to discourage me. I plan on writing him again and again and again, because I am just so stubborn, and pissed off.

But I have decided to take it a step or two farther, because that is just how I am. I have decided I am going to start an email campaign, and write all members of the Senate and also the House of Representatives, both state and federal. And then I am going to do the same thing for all states, including governors. I hope I can start some kind of movement, and encourage others to do the same thing. Remember, one voice in a storm can go unheard. Many voices in a storm cannot be ignored forever. Please join me in my mission.

You can find the email addresses and fax numbers for ALL Congress Members and Governors at the following website:  http://www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm

Below is the letter I wrote to Governor Branstad:

Dear Governor Branstad,

I would like to bring your attention to an article that was on the front page of the Cedar Rapids Gazette on Thursday, August 9, 2012. I am providing the link to it, in case you didn’t. It was titled ‘Local Veterans Speak Out About Military Sexual Trauma.” http://thegazette.com/2012/08/09/local-vets-speak-out-on-military-sex-assault/

I am a veteran, who tried valiantly to serve my country in the Iowa National Guard for over a decade, in spite of the fact that I was repeatedly raped, harassed and discriminated against. I am not the only one. In fact, I know of at least 20 women who suffered some of the same things I did while serving right here in the great state of Iowa. Nothing was ever done, we were all told it was our fault, we all were punished and branded as trouble makers, and Godd***ed Females. I lost my career over trying to make it stop. I even caused my unit to be investigated by the Inspector General’s Office. I attend a Female Veteran’s Retreat every year on the English River, and guess what the #1 topic is? Military Sexual Trauma and PTSD.

I even wrote a letter to The Adjutant General, pleading with him to make a change. Nothing has. Since I left the Iowa National Guard 14 years ago, other women veterans I served with told me of their rapes & harassment. I was so angry to find out my sacrifice accomplished nothing, and that it only got worse. I work with a man who served 20 years in the Army Reserves here in Cedar Rapids, and I asked him one day why he chose the Reserves over the Guard. He said it was because he couldn’t stand the way they treated the women, that the National Guard is the worse branch of the military for how they treat women. Unfortunately, I have heard this many times.

Pardon me for being so bold, but are you NOT the Commander-In-Chief of the Iowa National Guard? And as such, have you no power to make this stop, and stop immediately? Or do you agree with most of my own chain of command, that if a woman wants to be in the military, she gets what she deserves? Do you know in the military 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 10 men are sexually assaulted? What if your son served, and was raped? What would you do? 

What will you do now?

Thank You For Your Time,

Brigid

Spoils of War

August 20, 2012

What does that mean to you? How many times have you heard that term? Think about it. What three words ALWAYS proceed that statement?

RAPE AND PILLAGE

That was the reward for winning the battle. Take whatever you want of the enemy’s and rape as many women as you want. Make them slaves, kill them, it didn’t matter. They were just women anyway.

Some of the greatest military leaders of all times adhered to this. To reward the soldiers for doing a good job. Napoleon, Ceasar, Alexander the Great, Ghengis Kahn, the list goes on and on and on.

What about the Vikings? Do you know what Viking means? To go a-viking means simply to go and rape and pillage, and decimate the opponent.

Oh, let us not forget about our own history here. The Civil War. Didn’t matter which side you were on, but if you were lucky enough to march up to a nice plantation, or a farm house of nothing but women, chances of at least one of those women being raped was pretty high.

World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Yes, our soldiers did a lot of raping in those wars. Lots of raping. And it wasn’t always raping the enemy. They were raping the male soldiers back then, and what about the female staff of nurses?

Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom. These last two wars changed everything. Now our soldiers stop raping the enemy, and started raping ONLY their fellow soldiers. Men and women being raped by the people supposed to cover them in the fox hole, or to be their backup, raping them.

During The Invisible War, there was a statistic that made me almost vomit on the spot. They say a sexual predator in the military will go on to assault/abuse 300+ soldiers.

300+ soldiers. And there is no sex offender registry for them, unless they are actually convicted AND spend more than a year in prison. And that is rare. It is about 1% of all REPORTED military rape cases that actually result in a conviction with jail time, and only a FEW of them are for over a year.

After the film was over, a gentleman in the audience said none of this went on while he was serving. Joan’s husband was beside me and said, “Oh yes it did, you just didn’t notice.”

Last week was the anniversary of the first female Marine. Pvt. Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve Aug. 13, 1918. But rape in the military started even before then. The Revolutionary War, women like Florence Nightingale and others who tended to the wounds of the soldiers, many were raped by the soldiers.

All of these examples caused my boyfriend to say, “That’s why women just don’t belong in the military!” I don’t know why I allowed him to keep his manhood after that, or why I didn’t lay him out flat. But we should feel sorry for dumb animals and men. That is NOT why women should serve. Women have EVERY right to serve. We also have the RIGHT to NOT be assaulted/raped/harassed/abused.

But how are we going to stop it, when the whole basis of the military since time began was rape and pillage?????

Pray for change

Brigid