December 26, 2014 8:30 am -

Female veterans are fighting another fight, a battle to get treatment for post traumatic stress after suffering sexual abuse in the military.

Army veteran Kate Weber is a survivor of military sexual trauma who now spends most of her time doing MST advocacy. (Preston Gannaway/For The Washington Post)

Army veteran Kate Weber is a survivor of military sexual trauma who now spends most of her time doing MST advocacy. (Preston Gannaway/For The Washington Post)

[su_center_ad]Thousands of female veterans are struggling to get health-care treatment and compensation [su_thin_right_skyscraper_ad]from the Department of Veterans Affairs on the grounds that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by sexual trauma in the military. The veterans and their advocates call it “the second battle” — with a bureaucracy they say is stuck in the past.

Judy Atwood-Bell was just a 19-year-old Army private when she says she was locked inside a barracks room at Fort Devens in Massachusetts, forced to the cold floor and raped by a fellow solider.

For more than two decades, Atwood-Bell fought for an apology and financial compensation from VA for PTSD, with panic attacks, insomnia and severe depression that she recalls started soon after that winter day in 1981. She filled out stacks of forms in triplicate and then filled them out again, pressing over and over for recognition of the harm that was done.

The department labels it “military sexual trauma” (MST), covering any unwanted contact, including sexual innuendo, groping and rape.

A recent VA survey found that 1 in 4 women said they experienced sexual harassment or assault. And the problem is growing more pressing because female veterans represent the military’s fastest-growing population, with an estimated 2.2 million, or 10 percent, of the country’s veterans. More than 280,000 female veterans have returned home from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just the other day Atwood discovered her claim had been accepted. It took 20 years.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

7 responses to Female Veterans Struggling With PTSD From Sexual Abuse

  1. Jake December 26th, 2014 at 8:34 am

    That rustling sound is Republican “patriots who support our troops” rushing for the exits.

    • rg9rts December 26th, 2014 at 11:54 am

      To wrap themselves in the flag to parade down Main Street on Memorial Day…another long time tradition.

  2. rg9rts December 26th, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Get used to it ladies…beating on the vets where it doesn’t show is a contact sport in DC

    The latest??? Many active and disabled vets rely on SNAP to make up for $$ shortfalls so this new budget cut $93b in SNAP assistance, bet you didn’t hear much about that did you…. then there is the deny deny deny of any issues related to service…my generation was agent orange then gulf war syndrome…want to see what those misogynists in the gopee have to say to you about PTSD???? Welcome to my world.

    • edmeyer_able December 26th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      We can thank 2 groups of voters for this debacle those that voted for cons and those that didn’t vote at all. And if you think the last round of cuts were bad wait till you see what they go after in ’15

      • rg9rts December 26th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

        I just can’t wait!!! My giant Prep H is on order.. I did vote and we did stop a bagger from coming back.

  3. uzza December 26th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Do these women who were terrorized count as victims of terrorists?

  4. tiredoftea December 26th, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    We can thank the cowardly Senate which blocked Sen. Gillibrand’s reform efforts to change how rapes are investigated and prosecuted in the military. It was a bi-partisan failure, so include cowardly Dems along with the usual Repubs in the mix who folded to the Pentagon’s pressure.