...And with the publication of Helen Benedict's book and Courtney E. Martin's American Prospect article about female soldiers suffering from PTSD after sexual assault, the issue might actually get the attention it deserves.
It is not like there hasn't been enough stories about female soldiers and military contractors subjected to sexual harassment and sexually assaulted while serving their country. And yet, it keeps happening and the military keeps coming up short. It's like if they spend a little money to try to prevent assault, they have to take it away from treating the women who are assaulted.
For more than a year after she got out of the military, she was unable to hold a job, lying lethargic and depressed in front of the television for days on end (something she say she never would have been capable of prior to her service). Her marriage dissolved. Suicide seemed like the only option. She had almost every sign of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
And yet when Guzman applied for benefits, the military denied her claim for mental health care. In part, she suspects, this is because she never actually saw "combat" — defined as "active fighting in a war."
During her time "not" serving in a war, she was sexually assaulted, and did not report it. Martin admits that separating out combat- and non-combat veterans for different services makes sense, except for one key point.
When the sexual assault rates among female veterans are so astronomically high — at least 30, and as high as 70 percent, according to Helen Benedict, author of the new book The Lonely Soldier — the "combat" classification becomes a moot point. Keep in mind that sexual assault is a hugely underreported crime; even the Pentagon admits that only 10 to 20 percent of cases are probably being reported.
And if that's not shocking enough, think about it this way:
Everyone who signs his or her name on the dotted line of a military contract is destined for psychological trauma of one kind or another, especially if they're female.
That doesn't exactly sound good for recruitment — which means you'd think the military would be keen to stop this problem, uh, yesterday.
And when it comes to care as well as to prevention, women continue to get the short end of the stick.
A study conducted by the VA in 2004 found that women veterans who had experienced military sexual assault (MSA) were nine times more likely to have PTSD — whether they had been in combat or not. The conclusion reads: "Although women with MSA are more likely to have PTSD, results suggest that they are receiving fewer health care services."
So it's not just the military that needs to get its head out of its ass with how it deals with soldiers coping with sexual assault — and the fellow soldiers committing said assaults, it's also the Veterans Administration. Looks like there's a few more articles that need to be written.
The Combat Within: Female Veterans And PTSD Benefits [The American Prospect]
Related: The War Against Female Soldiers [Daily Beast]
Earlier: "What, Don't You Always End Up In Need Of Reconstructive Surgery After A Night Of Good Consensual Sex?"
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