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 have 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…
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 all.
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…
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.
I strongly believe in the presumption of innocence in a courtroom, but this isn’t a matter of proving a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, this is a matter of providing necessary medical services for people who have been assaulted. There is no moral or ethical quandary with regards to providing these services; it doesn’t infringe on the assailant’s right to a trial, it doesn’t presume guilt before a trial is concluded, and most importantly it provides vital help to victims that have regularly been ignored, cast aside, and denied proper benefits.
Measure 80 Replaces Marijuana Prohibition With Common-Sense Regulation
The National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) Alaska Oregon Washington State-Area Conference (AOWS-AC) has endorsed Oregon Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act and calls on voters who are committed to equality and civil justice to vote for Measure 80 on this November’s ballot.
"Our nation’s long, tragic, failed war on drugs has taken a disproportionate toll on people of color," said NAACP AOWS-AC President Oscar Eason, Jr. "To right the wrongs of the past, we need to end the drug war immediately and replace it with a common-sense approach."