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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
BECAUSE I WAS RAPED?
The first time the U.S. military betrayed me was when I was raped -- twice -- by
my commanding officer in the Navy.
The second betrayal was when the Veterans Administration
(VA) denied me disability benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) --
which I have because I was raped in the military.
When applying for benefits from the VA, I had to
"prove" that my rapes happened, through testimony from eyewitnesses,
my ex-husband and others. This is a higher burden of proof than for other
veterans applying for the same benefits -- and only veterans applying for
benefits because of sexual assault has to meet it. Even more, even after I had
given it what it wanted, the VA failed to believe that the rapes had
occurred or approve my benefits.
Today, I'm fighting back. I recently testified in front
of Congress to show elected officials how the VA is failing countless veterans
As a result of my rapes, I have endured decades of
debilitating PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, a sexually transmitted
disease, nine miscarriages, suicide attempts, homelessness and an end to my
marriage. It took 23 years, in the end, for the VA to give me any benefits at
And I'm not alone. By DOD’s own estimates, over
19,000 service members are assaulted in the military each year. For
countless veterans like me, a denied VA claim is the second betrayal, and can
mean the difference between life and death. And yet only 1 in 3
applicants receives PTSD benefits for military sexual trauma. In
comparison, more than half of veterans applying for PTSD benefits linked to
other kinds of trauma are approved.
A few weeks ago, I watched another military rape
survivor, Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy, start her own petition on Change.org. More than 300,000
people signed it, inspiring me to start my own petition to create change
within the VA
And I know public pressure to change the VA's broken
system can work: it has happened before, when the VA changed the requirements
for combat veterans applying for benefits. The same can happen for veterans who
are survivors of military sexual assault -- but only if thousands of people
join me by signing my petition.
My belief is that the VA wants me to fade away as quickly
as possible, but I'm not going to let it off the hook. It's really that simple.
I will continue to serve my country and defend the rights to life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness. My campaign today is a part of that
The past few weeks many have
spoken on the subject of rape. President Obama said, “Rape is Rape,” and other
leaders say, “It’s the will of God.” Yet they go against God’s will and unite
people of the same sex. To take what is not offered or given freely is a sin in
God’s eye and as it was written. Therefore no means no! Isn’t it funny how the
government seems to know that word very well and its meaning?