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Posts tagged ‘PTSD’

Because I Was Raped

Gabriel –

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.

Today, I’m fighting back. I recently testified in front of Congress to show elected officials how the VA is failing countless veterans like me. I also started a petition on Change.org to build a nationwide outcry against the VA’s double standard preventing veterans who have been raped and sexually assaulted within the military from getting the benefits they deserve.

Click here to sign my petition now.

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.

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.

Please click here to sign my petition now, and call on the VA to eliminate double standards and extra hurdles for veterans suffering from military sexual trauma and seeking the benefits they’re entitled to.

Thank you.

Ruth Moore

What Doesn’t Kill Us…

Review from New York Journal of Books

What Doesn’t Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth
by Stephen Joseph, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
Released: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Basic Books (256 pages)

“Ordinary people have the power to live lives just as dramatic and driven as those of superheroes, overcoming traumas no less daunting.” So claims Dr. Joseph, who uses part of Nietzsche’s time-tested phrase “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” as part of the book’s title. His experience, research, and writing back up this proclamation and provide perspective and hope for everyone who has, is or will, experience a traumatic event(s) in their life. That includes about 75% of humanity who must face some form of trauma during their lifetime.

Professor Joseph starts out with a little perspective and history of the term “Posttraumatic Growth,” which was coined in the mid-1990s by clinical researchers Professors Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun and is in line with many philosophers’ adages about how to live a “good life” and adapt to and live with loss and trauma. The insight and compassion of holocaust survivor, philosopher, and psychologist Viktor Frankl, is also sprinkled throughout the manuscript in support of the author’s thoughts, case studies and perspectives.

The three existential themes at the core of posttraumatic growth are described as: 1) Recognition that life is uncertain and changes; 2) Psychological mindfulness or how one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are related to one another and 3) Acknowledging personal agency or responsibility for choices one makes.

Dr. Joseph says, “Trauma leads to an awareness of all three of these existential truths.” It might be added that they “can” lead to such awareness, but such awareness does not always take place. He also shares three commonly related aspects of post-traumatic growth, which include personal, philosophical and relational changes and provides examples and case studies of each.

Trauma is taken from the Greek word, which means wound. Our physical wounds are dressed, stitched and/or removed. In the chapter titled The Biology of Trauma, Mr. Joseph shows how our emotional wounds are interconnected with our bodies’ autonomic nervous system and not so outwardly apparent or as easy to fix. “Most of the time our assumptions serve us well,” he says, “but throughout life we are always making revisions to them.” Never is this more apparent than after one has had a traumatic event assault their body, heart and mind.

He also points out that not everyone who experiences post-traumatic stress (PTS) develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as many have been led to believe. This is discussed throughout the book and is an important factor to consider for both survivors and those providing them support.

Read complete review at New York Journal of Books.

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