Women Veterans Committee – Understanding Military Sexual Trauma

Summer has arrived, and along with it responsibilities, goals and dreams. This is what the committee is working towards. With the start of the new year for DAV, our visits are approaching. I will report next month on our experiences visiting the State Veterans Homes and Minneapolis VA.

This month I would like to take the time to talk about Military Sexual Trauma (MST). I realize this is a difficult subject for people to read about, but it’s one that needs to be told. I’m going to tell you about a movement in the United States that is sure to grow.

Many women veterans like Jenelle Maria Mendez, a U.S. Marine Corp veteran, are beginning to speak out on MST. As a MST Advocate, she recently started a Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Movement to create awareness on the MST issue. Mendez has testified before Congress about women veterans issues like MST and how their needs are overlooked on the Federal level.

Other brave women who are all survivors of MST are telling their stories. In Green Bay, TV station NBC 26 is planning to do a story regarding the inconvenience of being a woman Veteran. I have gotten phone calls, texts and emails from all over the country. These calls are from women who are MST survivors. They all want their stories told. People need to know what the true facts are and the true statistics. Women are not alone but definitely the majority – there are 10% of the men in the military that also have MST.

I just received a call after I put out a post to several veterans sites about the story channel 26 is doing. It was from a woman veteran, and her story is unique in some ways, yet sounds very familiar in others.
This woman was a Combat Corpsman who did two tours in Iraq. She was assaulted in each tour. One by someone she knew and the second by someone she didn’t known.

In the first instance she reported it to her superiors. It was treated like she deserved it and it was her fault. Basically, they brushed it under the rug. In the second instance she didn’t report the incident.

Not reporting is common for women veterans who experience MST and leads to under reporting. So yes the VA has statistics only on the ones that are reported and not on the ones that haven’t.

I have gotten other responses from women veterans. Some locally; some not. The truth will be coming out from different sources like the MST Movement.

There are so many stories that sound alike and it is a travesty this is not coming from the enemy. It is coming from our soldiers in arms, the very same ones who are supposed to watch your six. Where is the trust how do you get it back. This is the story about the inconvenience of being a woman veteran.

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