Copyright by Wendi Goodman THE One Weary Soldier. Powered by Blogger.

Monday, November 4, 2013

To Salute or Not? When is it appropriate for Veterans to render a salute

In response to a discussion on Facebook, below is a link to an article discussing when it's appropriate for Veterans to render the Salute when not in uniform.  Some of the major Veteran Organizations don't like this regulation.  They think it sets a wrong precedent to children and adult civilians.  They believe it encourages the wrong type of people to salute.  I say it gives us a perfect opportunity to educate the public.

What do YOU think?

Until the next time, my friends.....

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rape Culture and the Drunken Whore Fallacy by Jen McClendon

Another great post, written by Staff Blogger, Jen McClendon.  All thoughts, ideas, words, opinions are those of Jen and do not necessarily reflect those of the One Weary Soldier. 

Rape Culture and the Drunken Whore Fallacy


Jen McClendon


I will be writing a series of articles that address one or more of the components of rape and abuse culture. In this article I will address the issue of alcohol. The alcohol fallacy is nicely expressed here in a Washington Post Op Ed.

            Rape culture is a term that is thrown around often enough that most of us think that we know what it is. What is rape culture? Does “Rape culture” promote rape or merely condone it? What is the source of rape culture? How do we learn not to promote rape? I will take several months to effectively and holistically address a global Meta CBT about rape and violence. We need to go here if our daughters and sons are to live more safely than we did.

We start learning not to promote rape with a broad but inclusive definition of rape culture. We offer examples of rape culture and then we make proposals for sustainable change. In other words, we have to think about what we think about rape. Then we have to challenge those thinking patterns on a macro level. Think of this as Meta CBT or Meta Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Think, identify, challenge, and actively change. Then sustain that change with practice.

Let us distill this through the alcohol fallacy. If we can blame alcohol for rape than we do not have to blame rapists. If we continue to blame alcohol for rape than military commands, police divisions, businesses, churches, fraternities, parents, and college campuses do not have to address the problem of rape culture. This social problem should be called what it is and that is letting everyone off the hook but the victim.

Prima Fascia the alcohol fallacy is a seemingly plausible explanation but it falls short of being a comprehensive approach. I would ask whether rape statistics receded during prohibition but rape data was not systemically collected and people drank during prohibition.  The global “We” have a long way to go and much learning ahead of us on this matter.

We call arguments like the alcohol fallacy half-truths in logic and debate. Alcohol is often present and a person that is drinking is less capable to defend himself or herself against the rapist. In all cases the absence of a rapist leads to the absence of a rape. The absence of alcohol and the presence of a rapist do not guarantee that a rape will be avoided. Nevertheless, many commentators on rape place an absurd emphasis on alcohol, which deflects blame from the attacker. See the June 13th 2013 Op Ed in the Washington Post by Lt. Colonel Elizabeth Robins. Thank you for your service Colonel Robins.

Here is a chart

Alcohol + rapist =probable rape
No alcohol + rapist = possible rape
Alcohol + no rapist = No rape

© Jen McClendon 2013

Alcohol is not the common denominator here.

There is an active tendency to allow more bad behavior from men than women. This is the boys will be boys fallacy. We have all heard that boys will be boys. Men are allowed to get drunk and go brawling. If a man commits an act of rape while he is drinking many people think of that man as a victim of his own drinking. Many people describe drunken rape in terms of “Accidental rape”. Perhaps he would not have raped someone if he were not drunk. We would not let a drunk driver off this easily.

If a woman is drunk while being relentlessly violated then she should have been more responsible and she should not have been drunk enough to “Get herself raped.” We want women to be responsible and proper while men do as they wish. Just to recap, a man is not at fault if he is drunk and commits rape but if a woman is drunk then she failed to keep herself safe. A significant degree of cognitive dissonance is necessary to cling to this double standard.  

What rape survivors call the “Drunken whore fallacy” is alive and well in discourse on rape. This is not different than the Saudi woman that was sentenced to 200 lashes for being raped. The only component that is absent is the post assault physical abuse. The post assault psychological abuse is part of the main course in the treatment of the American rape victim. The case against the midshipman that was raped at the United States Naval Academy illuminates this double standard. A rape victim is being punished in order to exonerate her attackers.

The case should be against her attackers but whether or not she was drunk has taken center stage.  There is a very well written article in the September 7, 2013 Washington Post local blog about the Naval Academy trial and what it tells us about culture at America’s Naval Academy.

Would what is happening to this Naval Midshipman be acceptable if this were your daughter? Our current approach will not suffice for my children. I will not subject another person’s child to something that I will shield my own children from experiencing. We have to do this Meta CBT.

Inequality is the foundational philosophy of rape culture.  Red herrings and the half-truths that we tell ourselves lay at the heart of rape culture. Holistic and comprehensive facts lay the foundation for solving this problem. The whole population needs to think about what we think and determine whether our opinions about rape are exportable to other situations. We need to ask if we would participate in the excuses that promote rape today if they were used by parents that rape their children. What if the child was taking cold medicine? If a drunk woman is walking home and a drunk man is driving home and the drunk man hits the drunk woman with his car, is she guilty of getting herself struck?

What do we think about what we think?

This is the first in a long series of articles that will attack the fallacies that promote rape culture. If we are to undermine rape culture then we have to talk about everything that it is and not just throw around the term.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Response to Colonel Elizabeth Robbins’ Poor Explanation of the Military Rape Problem

The following is a post by Staff Blogger, Jen McClendon.  This is her response to an article written by Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins posted 13 June 2013 in The Washington Post.  Jen's rebuttal was refused by The Post.  I'm happy to publish it here. As always, Jen's opinions are her own and don't necessarily reflect those of the One Weary Soldier... but in this case.... yes, they do.  Drive on, Jen.  I love you, Sister.  You rock!

The best way to avoid correcting the military rape problem is to call rape in the ranks anything other than a byproduct of privilege and rape culture. Red herrings, straw men, and flack screens have been protecting rape culture from public scrutiny for generations. The next best thing to directly blaming the victim is indirectly blaming the victim.

Several women and men in uniform think that rape will never happen to them because they are stronger, smarter, or somehow more cautious than the women and men that are raped. If a victim is strong than they must not have been raped. If the victim is weak than are they guilty of failing to avoid rape.

If there are only two avenues home and a rapist awaits a soldier on both avenues home and the soldier is raped while taking avenue A than there is no way of knowing whether they were also doomed if they had taken avenue B. When we point the finger at the soldier that took avenue A home and was raped we chip away at the guilt of rapist C by presuming that avenue B was safe.

Statistically the odds of never being raped are better than the odds of being raped. If a Lieutenant Colonel has not been raped this is a good thing. The question is whether their caution or their strength protected them. Could luck be a component?

There are several fallacies at play in victim blaming. One fallacy is that strong women and strong men are not raped. We may call this the fallacy of “I’m too tough to be raped.” The cause of rape is not being attributed to the presence of a rapist. We ignore rank, fatigue, firearms, and other weapons that have nothing to do with alcohol when we assert a strength fallacy.

The “Strong Woman” fallacy is dangerous. If you are strong and you are raped that strength might be a liability in prosecuting the offender. The general public knows about gang rape. Does the military brass?

We teach Rape evasion the same way that we teach influenza evasion. If we do not wash our hands of the flu virus and our bodies do not fight off the invasion then we are likely to get the flu. In rape training we all but ignore washing the rapist down the sink with the flu virus.

Rape survivors along with the parents and loved ones of those people that were lost to rape and murder or rape and suicide understand the complexities of getting a conviction. We are not stupid and we are not crazy. What we do not understand is why we are not attacking rape culture head on. We waste time when we hold the victim more accountable than the rapist?

Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins describes herself as strong, physically fit, and presumably safe from rape. I am pretty tough too. I was an E4 and a teetotaler both times that I was raped. Are we going to address inequality or blame alcohol? What about the "RHIP" (Rank Has It’s Privileges) song? I won a base triathlon between my two rapes. Both rapists had rank and gender privilege and both times that trumped my strength.

Today, nobody holds rank over me and I have not been raped. I am physically fit and I feel that if I defend myself I will not be charged with a crime. Rank is the most toxic weapon in military sexual violence. Rank overpowers strength and caution.

If we follow the colonel’s logic than those men and women that were raped on active duty merely failed to keep themselves safe. Perhaps they should have known better. Implicit in the writing of Colonel Robbins is that many of the people that were raped in the military were guilty of poor judgment. I encourage the colonel to revisit that opinion.

Implicit in the public discourse on rape is the language of victim blaming. Air Force General Mark Welsch, asked why junior personnel did not “Turn to their chain of command on the worst day of their lives.” This is why!

Some women and men were raped in their barracks rooms. Several women and men – to include this very strong woman - were raped while on watches in isolated ship spaces and while completely sober. When you are low in rank following orders in the workplace lest you face conjured charges of imagined crimes then might have trouble making the “Right choices” in the context of rape prevention.

We have to address power as a problem or we will drop another ball on this matter. We need to talk about the RHIP song. Rank is the most potent rape drug.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Dare You Call Us MST Media Whores

How dare you! How dare you call us "Media Whore"!!!  Who the hell do you think you are?  What gives you the right to put that label on us?  Haven't we been abused enough by our assailants?  Haven't we been attacked enough by other Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coasties?  I know I was.  

I made a career out of the Army. I am proud to say that I am a card carrying Retiree. During my career I was called every filthy name in the book.  I was told early in my career that I had no business in the Army; that I belonged "at home, barefoot and pregnant".  I was told that by NCO's and Officers in my chain of command.  I was called "bitch, dyke, whore".  I was accused of "husband hunting" during that first tour overseas though I dated the same Soldier almost the entire time I was there (RIP SFC Anthony John Scheehl). 

My virginity was TAKEN from me by my Platoon Sergeant.  I was barely 18 years old.  He took me to my Squad Leaders apartment, got me drunk and took me.  I remember the stink of his breath on me.  It smelled like vomit though I don't remember the act itself.  I remember after sitting in a boiling hot tub feeling very dirty.  He stuck his head in the bathroom to ask if I was okay.  I was an E2 and he was an E7.  It happened just that once.  I think.  It's the only time I recall.  So far.  I've just started to have flashbacks about him.  If there were other incidents I'm sure there will be other flashbacks to follow.

I write about things that happened to me.  I write about things that are helpful, in my opinion, to Veterans.  I publish links to my blog everywhere I can think of.  I ask my friends to post links to my blog.  If that makes me a "Media Whore" than so be it.  I've been called worse names by worse people.  But here is the thing.  Have the fucking guts to say it to my face.  And then tell me what you are doing to further the FIGHT!  Are you jealous of me?  Are you jealous of the others who are out there fighting this MST CAUSE?  What the fuck is your problem?

WHO THE HELL WANTS TO BE FAMOUS or INFAMOUS FOR BEING RAPED????  Do you realize how much COURAGE it takes to stand in front of the cameras and speak out about this?  Can you do it?  I can't.  I know I can't.  That's why I write about it.  I have so much respect for my brothers and sisters who get out there in front of the public.  I would name them personally but this blog would never end if I were to list them all.  They know who they are and they have my respect and my love and loyalty.

So, yeah, if writing about Military Sexual Trauma makes me a MEDIA WHORE than I guess that's what I am.  At least I'm speaking out.  I'm telling my story.  I try to help other victims become survivors and I am proud of that.  I don't attack other advocates.  I work with them and support them and I will mentor anyone who asks me to.  I teach others how to file claims the Susan Avila-Smith and Jim Strickland way.  I listen.  I lend a shoulder.  I do what is necessary.  And yes, I am often very triggered by the things that I do.  Most of us are.  Does that stop us?  FUCK NO.

People in glass houses, my friends.....

Until the next time.....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Service: When Women Come Marching Home

Service: When Women Come Marching Home
A Must See Not-A-Chic-Flic Movie 

This is a tough post to write.  I'm not really sure where to begin.  Service: When Women Come Marching Home is without doubt the best documentary you have not yet seen.  I've said that before and I will keep saying it until you post a comment here telling me you have viewed it.

Service focuses on eight women Veterans with life altering, service-connected disabilities.  Their disabilities range from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) to radical amputation to homelessness.  Every Veteran tells her own story.  In the words of co-producer Patricia Stotter, "there are no voice overs".

I can now reveal that I have been involved with this project almost since the very beginning when I was asked permission to have my blog used as a resource in Service.  How could I say no?  I was honored and flattered.  I have watched as this has moved from an idea to a full blown, feature Documentary.  I was able to screen Service in its' most raw form while it was being developed.  I watched it grow from an idea to what you are now seeing at screenings and on your local PBS Stations.

Something to keep in mind as you prepare to view this film.  It may trigger you if you have PTSD.  Several of the 8 women in Service were raped.  Some are combat Veterans with serious combat injuries.  Homelessness is covered and discussed.  No stone is left unturned and you hear the horrible truth from each of these brave Veterans.

I have had the pleasure of friending some of the Veterans in Service; BriGette and Layla. Late at night when she and I can't sleep, you can often find Layla and I chatting privately on Facebook.  Patricia Stotter has also become a close friend and confidante. We give each other support.  As Survivors, we need that.  Support.  And that, in a nutshell, is what Service means to me.  SUPPORT.

I would be remiss if I didn't thank Patricia Stotter and Marcia Rock for coming up with the idea for this outstanding documentary. For almost three years (?) they have put their heart, soul and blood into this project and there is no end in sight. They are now criss-crossing the Country doing screenings in a city or town near you (if you are lucky!). 

I would also like to thank the DAV for sponsoring Service.  Without their help, this important documentary would not be in the position it's in now this soon.

To all the Veterans and their families who are in Service, I salute you.  You all have my undying respect and love.  Thank you so much for having the courage to come forward and tell your stories.  People need to hear them; they need to see the truth.  Others need to know what is available and Service educates.

For more information about Service; When Women Come Marching Home, please go to their website.  There you can "meet" the Veterans in the film.  You will also find the television schedule for your home town.  You don't want to miss it when it's on.  If you don't see your city listed, call your local PBS station and DEMAND they show it!!!

After you have seen Service, would you mind coming back here to comment?  I would love to know what you think of this heart-tugging documentary.  It's very important to me and not just because my blog is in it.  I've already had my 15 minutes of fame and glory.  That happened long ago.  I just want to hear how you were touched by this documentary. 

Thanks, my friends.  Until the next time.....

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Revisiting Katie Patterson -MST Survivor

It's becoming a more familiar topic in the public media.  Military Sexual Trauma.  MST.  Mr and Mrs John Q. Public are starting to understand this is a real problem in the military today.  TODAY.  TODAY?  I've got news, my friends.  This is not a NEW issue.  This did not just start happening during the OIF/OEF and Afghanistan Wars.  The problem extends much farther back than that.  If you are a fan or regular reader of this blog you know that by now.  If you are John Q. Public, you probably think this just started within the last decade or so.  WRONG ANSWER.

I have a friend, Army Veteran Katie Patterson, whom I have blogged about before.  Katie was brutally raped in April 2005 while recovering from surgery in a military hospital.  She couldn't cope with the aftermath of the attack.  She reported it to her Commander who refused to believe that it happened.  With no one to back her, believe her or show any support to this 20 year old soldier, she was placed on an inpatient psychiatric ward. Accused of "acting out" she was wrongly diagnosed with a personality disorder as opposed to a soldier suffering from PTSD due to military sexual trauma.  Five months later she was discharged from the Army; with personality disorder stamped on her DD 214. 

Katie and her proud mother

Katie recently sent me a link to her former Commander.  I was sickened at what I read.  Her former Commander, a woman by the way,  who refused to believe Katie had been sexually assaulted by another SOLDIER, is now holding a very critical position in the Army.  Get this.  She is a "Sexual Harassment / Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP)" Officer.  How do you go from not believing one of your soldiers to being in that kind of a position?  Are you kidding me?  Katie found her former Commander on a social media sight though I won't tell you which one.  She sent her Commander a "friend request" and it was approved.  I had to talk Katie down when she saw the position her former Commander is currently filling.  I don't blame Katie.  I'd be angry, too.  That's the same woman who discharged Katie from the Army.  That's the very same woman who refused to believe that Katie had suffered a brutal and dehumanizing rape; even with the evidence right in front of her face.

Today, Katie received a note from her former Commander.  I'll let you decide for yourself how ironic the message is.  Remember, this comes from the woman who signed Katie's discharge papers.  This comes from the woman who refused to believe that Katie was raped.  This woman called Katie a liar, accused her of malingering and told her she was acting out.  This woman kicked Katie out of the Army.


Were you in my company? Either way, glad to see 92Ms out in the world doing great things. I am assuming you know my passion for the Mortuary Affairs field, since you requested my connection.


What do you make of that, my friends?  Sure, it's been a long time.  Still, I would take that as a slap in the face.  She ruined the life of a good soldier.  She allowed Katie's assailant to walk away free and clear.  She kicked Katie out of the Army and has no recall of doing so.  Katie is angry and I don't blame her.  How would you feel?

I first blogged about Katie in January 2011.  I've gotten to know her very well since then.  I've assisted her with claims; watched as she has gone through surgery after surgery; spent hours on the phone with her; and we chat regularly via Facebook.   Her strength overwhelms me.  She never gives up.  No matter what obstacles get in her way, she charges right through them.  Nothing, absolutely nothing stops this amazing woman.  If she wants something you better believe she will fight for it.  Katie eventually gets whatever the hell she is going after.  I am honored to know her, have her in my life, call her my friend and my little sister.

Just one of the many procedures Katie has had to endure 

What happened to Katie is not a singular event.  There are thousands upon thousands of MST survivors out there, both male and female.  To listen to the military and the media tell it, you'd think this is a new and recent epidemic.  Bullshit.  I'm here to tell you this is nothing new.  It's been going on for decades.  Probably centuries but I can't prove that.   I know from my own recall of memories that it's been going on since at least the late 70's.  I know from speaking with Veterans older than myself that it was going on way before I enlisted in 1976.

A few stories I haven't told:

1.  Sitting in the barracks at Fort Jackson on a Saturday night, December 1976, a young private came running into our barracks, beaten and bloody, clothes shredded, screaming she had been raped.  I never saw her again.

2.  Hearing one of my friends screaming "rape!" in the barracks in Germany, 1978.  Her room next to mine.  Several us of ran to her room and literally tore her door off the hinges to help her.  We beat that man bloody.

3.  Being locked in an office during "Alerts" in Germany with the other eight women in my platoon for "my own protection" at night.  That's right.  Our command knew that the men in my platoon were a threat to us. When we were on alert "lock down" took on a whole new meaning for women soldiers.

4.  One of my squad leaders coming on to me so hard that I faked an asthma attack to get away from him.  I've never had a breathing problem in my life but he believed me and left me alone.

5.  I had an affair with my platoon sergeant my first tour in Germany.  I was a Private E2.  I didn't know how to say no to him.  He was an E7 and married.  How do you say no to an E7 when you are a Private, just coming out of AIT?  He's your boss.  You do as you're told or you pay the consequences.  That was a pattern I followed for a long time in my career.  I'm very ashamed to admit that.  It haunts me to this day.

6.  As an E6, Staff Sergeant, I had a Private who worked for me.  A really nice kid.  I found out she was having an affair with my XO.  I did my best to put a stop to it but it didn't work.  The Company Commander knew about it.  He thought it was cool that the XO was putting it to this young soldier. (His words, not mine.)  When the shit hit the fan, there was an Article 15-6 Investigation.  I was called in to testify.  I gave my statement and revealed that the Commander knew about the affair all along and covered it up.  Needless to say, the Commander was furious with me.  He told my 1SG, "Get that bitch out of my PAC before I kill her."

I was moved to a different section and lost a position I loved.  The XO was a promotable lieutenant and was removed from the Captain's list.  The Commander was forced to resign his commission.  But what about the Private?  Her name was Barb.  That's all I remember about her.  Her life was trashed.  She was a young, innocent, naive Private.  I'll bet she suffers from MST from that incident.  He was her first.  What a horrible experience that had to have been for her.  He broke her heart.  If you're reading this, Barb, please contact me.

There are more stories I could tell you about my own career.  Some more painful than the others.  But what point would that prove?  This is about Katie Patterson and how unjust and ironic it is that her former Company Commander is now a SHARP Officer.  The thought sickens me and I can't even begin to fathom how Katie really feels about it.  To receive that note from her former Commander had to have been the biggest slap in the face of all.  That's what "they" meant when the phrase "adding insult to injury" was coined.  Yes, I talked Katie out of responding negatively to it, but would I have listened to my own advice?  I wonder.  Would I have shown as much restraint as Katie did?  If you've read this blog long enough you know that I'm a hot head and sometimes my temper gets the best of me.  In fact, it is all I can do not to blast the name of Katie's former Commander all over this blog post for the world to see.  

As a community, what is our responsibility here?  Do we single out rotten Commanders like the one who wrongly discharged Katie?  Do we start a Facebook page, "Deadbeat Commanders" similar to the "Deadbeat Dads" pages that are so popular?  HOW DO WE STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING TO OTHER SERVICE MEMBERS IN THE FUTURE?  WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?  How do we stop those Commanders who continue to ignore the rapes going on right under their noses?  Katie had a police report for cryin' out loud and they still accused her of "acting out".  Katie had the evidence in hand and her Commander STILL refused to believe what was put in front of her.  What the hell is wrong with people? Where is the fucking justice?

There is a phenomenal documentary coming out on PBS very soon.  It's already been shown in many VA Hospitals around the Country.  Ask, no, DEMAND, that your Women Veterans Program Manager acquire a copy for your Veterans Hospital and have it shown there.  Everyone needs to see this film produced by Marcia Rock and Emmy Award winner Patricia Stotter entitled "Service: When Women Come Marching Home".  Some of my dearest friends share their painful stories in  "Service".  You don't want to miss it.  I've seen it.  I can't say enough good things about it.  Another outstanding documentary you may have seen is the Oscar nominated "Invisible War".  Admittedly, I have only seen bits and pieces of "Invisible War".  It was way too triggering for me.  Many of my friends are in that documentary as well.  If you want to see the honest, by G-d truth of what is happening to our women and men in the military, watch these two documentaries.  They will teach you a valuable and brutal lesson.  Military Sexual Trauma is not a new epidemic.  It's been going on for ages and the military doesn't give two shits.  That's what these two documentaries will teach you.

There is no easy way to close this post, my friends.  If you know my friend Katie, say hello to her on Facebook.  Tell her how much you admire and support her.  She can use your encouragement right now as she is recovering from yet another major surgery.  Any MST survivor can use your support; keep that in mind.  If you want to know more about Katie's story, purchase the book she wrote.  It's entitled "My Invisible Injury:  Living Life with a Traumatic Brain Injury."  It's a brilliant book written from the heart.  Her life has changed tremendously since she published her story.  Personally, I'm hoping for an update.  You won't believe the challenges she has faced since her book was published.

Until the next time my friends.....

Saturday, January 12, 2013

PTSD Award Approved!! Hooray!!

Hello old friends.  I hope you haven't deserted me.  It has been ages since I've written anything.  My only excuse is that my life has undergone some major changes and my world has been topsy turvy for several months now.  Things are slowly getting back to whatever will be normal for me.  I hope that means a return to regular posting for you, my friends and faithful followers.  Please come back from wherever you have been.

If you follow me on Facebook you know what changes have gone on in my life.  I won't spell them out for you here.  I'm not going to replay all that drama.  It's just not worth it.  Suffice it to say, my life has moved forward and I am much happier for the change.  My younger sister is now living with me.  We have not lived together since that day, October 5, 1976, when I left for Basic Training.  I was 17 and she was 14.  We are now 54 and 51.  It's actually been less of an adjustment for either of us than we figured it would be.  We are shocked almost every day when we discover all the little things we do that are just alike.  Silly things from the way we pair socks and fold underwear to larger things like how we clean, do laundry and even sleep at night.  It's uncanny.  We love living together.  She brings me peace.  I hope I do the same for my sister.

The big news that I have to share with you is that after two and one-half years of waiting, my PTSD Claim (for Military Sexual Trauma aka MST) has finally been settled and approved.  I followed my own advice, my friends.  I filed for it in June 2010.  I prepared my own claim using the guidelines set forth by two greats; Jim Strickland and Susan Avila-Smith.  Those two know their stuff.  I sent my claim via "certified mail" with a "return receipt requested".  I kept copies of everything.  I did not call to inquire about the status of my claim.  I did not give anyone my power of attorney.  I did not submit any IRIS inquiries.  I sent in every bit of evidence that I had.  I kept all my appointments and I continued on in therapy.  I did not call the Regional Office to bitch and/or complain about how long my claim was taking.  I did not contact to my Congress Critter.  I stayed at home, took my meds, responded PROMPTLY to the paperwork sent to me by the VARO like a good little Veteran.  And then I waited some more.

Finally, two and one-half years later my patience was rewarded.  I was awarded 70% service connection for PTSD due to Military Sexual Trauma.  My overall rating was increased to 90%.  I am already 100% due to Individual Unemployability (IU) and that award is, and remains, Permanent and Total (P&T).  The effective date of the PTSD award was backdated to June 2010; the date I filed my claim.

I know some of you are thinking, "Wow, that's some backpay."  Not really.  They did "readjust" my service connection.  I had been 30% service connected for major depressive disorder as a secondary condition to all my other service connected conditions.  They got rid of that and awarded PTSD as a primary condition.  However, I've been at 100% IU P&T since October 2008 so there won't be any backpay.  That's fine with me. I didn't file for the money.

Why did I file if not for the money, you ask?  I filed for the validation. That was the reason.  Plain and simple.  I wanted someone in the Government to look at the evidence I had; not just "look" at it, but really EVALUATE it and say, "Yes, this Soldier was sexually assaulted.  She didn't make this shit up."  And though the decision letter reads "benefit of the doubt", that works for me.  I'll take that as proof they believe me.  

What next?  Nothing.  I am done filing claims.  I am 100% IU P&T.  That covers everything.  Medical, dental, spousal benefits (if I were straight, that is), educational bennies for my kids and so much more.  I'm still fighting for my spousal benefits since it seems that even though we are separated, it's damn near impossible for Gay and Lesbian couples to Divorce.  Funny, we can marry but they won't divorce us in "their" courts.  But that's another blog for another day.  But what the hell, as long as I am stuck married to her, I will fight for benefits for her.  She deserves that for putting up with me and my PTSD for as long as she did.

There are so many people to thank for their roles in helping me through this horrendous wait and period in my life;  Jim Strickland, my friend and mentor.  I love you, Brother.   Susan Avila-Smith for your awesome guide available to anyone willing to look it up - it's also posted here in this blog roll.  My wife for putting up with me all those years; I wish you well and I will keep fighting for bennies for you just as I promised.  Like I said, I feel like I owe you at least that much.  My VA doctors who have taken such great care of me.  Sure, you run into a bad seed every now and then, but I've had some of the best there are.  Dr Miller at the Brooksville, FL CBOC, Dr Dana Glenn at James A Haley VA Medical Center, my current therapists, Kristen Lahey, & Dr Beckner, at the Houston VA Hospital.  I would be remiss if I didn't thank my many friends who have helped pick me up when the going got rough.  Donna Smith, you have been there for me since the very beginning.  You gave me the courage to file my claim.  I love you, Sis.  The "Oy Vey" Women.  They know who they are.  I can't wait for our Retreat.  I hope we can make that happen this year at "The Manor".  To my good friends Chris and Marion (& Chris' 'rents) who took care of my new home in Houston until I could move here from Florida.  You are amazingly good friends.  I love you so much.  Deena and family -- for storing my pop-up and just being there with you!  Di Manning for your ever-loving kindness, friendship and constant support and giving me a "new nephew".  What would I ever do without you?  You're a strong woman and I am so glad we met.  To my own family; thank you for not doubting me when I finally broke down and told you what happened to me.  I needed you to believe me and you did.  Lauri, my dear little sister... you have given me back some of my strength.  That was something I thought was long gone.  You taught me that I really can stand up for myself if I just dig deep enough to find that "younger Wendi who was within".  She wasn't dead she was just "aseepin".  You managed to stoke the fires to wake her.  That was when my life started to changed for the better.

There are many others I know I should be giving love and thanks to.  I just can't pull their names out of my rattled brain right now.  OH!!!  Kathy, Terry Two and Roy!!  Three of my closest friends in Hanau!  Mickey B & the Bloody Buddies!!!  How could I forget to name you?  Bless you all.  You were instrumental in me getting through that first tour in Germany.  I would honestly be dead were it not for your love, friendship and strength.  Jody and Chris-Chris (wherever you are Chrissy) I love and miss you both. Polly, my friend.  You kept so many of my secrets.  Nina, Nelda, Jami, Pip and the rest of my "Buckhorn" Family.  The Browns; my Peoria Family.  The Garcias; my Albuquerque Family.  The Almond/Piessens/Arnold Family Clan.  You were my family when I needed you.  I am forever grateful to you.  You unselfishly shared your parents with me when I needed parenting.  You let me into your family and gave me guidance and a home when I needed direction.  You will all, always, be in my heart.  My children.  All of them and that includes all my "adopted nieces and nephews".  I love you so much.  So many others... and the one who is gone... My soulmate, my best friend, my "Sister" Sandy, the keeper of my letters and my memory... Sandy preserved my memory in writing.  She saved every letter I wrote to her from the day I left for Basic Training until her death in May '93.  I miss you, Sandy.  I hope you are proud of the MST work I am doing now.

Forgive me, the rest of you, whose names I have left out.  I promise you it is not intentional.  So many people have touched my life in many different ways over the last 30+ years.  Each of you has left a lasting impression in my life and on my heart.  You've all been there for me and I can never repay you.  Just know that I am here for you.  Always.

What do I do now?  Nothing.  I'm finished.  I use the benefits I have.  If something else crops up I don't see any reason to attempt to service connect them because I'm at 100% already.  Anytime you apply for another service connection you take a chance at losing what you already have.  I know this for fact.  Yes, I gained 70% for PTSD-MST.  I also LOST 30% for my right shoulder.  It's been service connected since 1995.  I damn near had reached that magical 20 year mark.  I haven't spoken to my Attorney yet to see if he wants to appeal that.  I'm reluctant to do so (submit an appeal or a DRO Review or anything of the like) because I don't want to chance losing my P&T status.  Remember Friends, just because it's P&T, doesn't mean they can't look at you again.  It's a chance you take when you submit a new claim.  BEWARE.  Consequences have actions and reactions.  Don't push your luck.  You will only screw yourself over if you try to out-think the VA.  

And that my friends is all I have for you today.  I will try to come back soon.  I'd like to get in a pattern of writing again.  Do you have a topic you'd like me to cover?  Drop me a note.  I'd love to hear from you. 

Until the next time..... 



Design by Lori Hahn

  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP