I am sitting in an afternoon break out on Military Sexual Trauma presented by Sue Ann Garrison PhD, MSA. Some facts about MST: Its not just rape but includes Sexual harassment as well. The numbers: Among women who participate in the VA health services 55% experience sexual harassment, 23% experience sexual assault. These numbers include only women in the VA and it is estimated that only 20% of harassment or assault are actually reported. Restricted reporting of MST gets the victim help but does not prosecute the perpetrator. Unrestricted reporting does follow up with the intent of prosecuting the assailant. Men also experience sexual harassment and sexual assault. When any Vet has a physical at the VA it is required by law that they be asked if they have experienced MST.
MST investigations are still controlled by the victim’s commander rather than the legal system. Many commanders decline to prosecute. Since 2007 the number of cases not prosecuted has decreased. SO we are seeing some improvement as well, in fact 71% of cases with sufficient evidence have been investigated since 07. However many of these investigations led to minor or no punishment. Only 197 out of over 5000 were actually convicted as sex offenders.
The big message: Make sure you are asked about MST when you visit the VA because victims of MST are more likely to suffer form ill health including PTSD, depression, substance use, Obsessive Compulsive disorder and Suicidal ideation. The rated of PTSD are higher for people who experience sexual trauma than people who experienced combat.
Two effective therapies for PTSD:
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Maryanne is a Korean War vet and is 80 years young. She told me that people don’t believe her when she says she is a Korean War vet. I asked if it was because they did not believe a woman could have served in Korea. Maryanne said no it was because they did not belive she was old enough.
we are hearing from Diane Zumatto now who will speak on Empowerment and Toxic Wounds. She is doing a roll call of who served in what Era. We have two WW2 Vets, 3three Korean War vets and a scattering of Vietnam Vets. A large number who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and during the cold war.
She’s telling us that in the 70’s 75% of congress were veterans and today it is 19%. She is urging veterans to run for office. She works for Amvet as a legislative liason. Check out one of her slides above. Her report from Congress is not good.
We are getting a lesson on how to influence bills in congress.
She has great slides – one last one before lunch:
Veteran entrepreneurs is one of the themes of the conference. we are listening to Michael Zacchea, survivor of Iraq and the battle of Fallujah, disabled vet who retired as a Marine Lt Colonel. Mike has received numerous medals including a bronze star, purple heart and the Order of the Lion of Babylon from the Iraqi government. He is also a member of Veterans for Common Sense.
He directs the U of Connecticut School of Business’s Entrepreneurial Boot Camp for Veterans (EBV) . i will be going to attend his breakout sessions this afternoon.
Lind maloney seaking
Linda Maloney is speaking right now. She is a jet pilot who flew off carriers in a support role and is telling her ejection story from an A6. They lost both hydraulic systems while on the way to Jacksonvile. They went into a roll and ejected through the canopy. They landed in the water and got into the raft successfully. A P3 was overhead within 3 minutes rocking his wings. When the helicopters and they hauled her out of the drink one of the crew exclaimed “You’re a girl!”
Linda is also an author with an award winning book Military Fly Moms and is organizing and speakers bureau for women veterans. She believes that it is important for us to tell our stories.
Linda mentioned some interesting statistics: Florida is third in the country with 165,962 women veterans .
Only 10% of the US population are veterans
You may not think of women vets having service dogs but here are two sets of service dogs and their owners at the conference.
Leslie and her service dog
Holly and her service dog
I was looking for a fellow Vietnam Vet at the meet and greet. A lot of younger vets are attending this conference and I didn’t find a fellow Vietnam vet but this morning I met Ann who is actually an organizer of the conference. Her husband also served and had a military career around the world.
I will be posting photos of women vets attending the conference. Here is the first post. They are World War 2 vets and also twin sisters. If you look carefully at their t shirts you will see they got and honor flight from SW Airlines to transport them to the conference. They are our celebrity attendees.
That’s Nadine at the podium And you will see some of our friends from Veterans for Common Sense at the back of the room in the second photo.
Here we are at the Women’s Conference in Sarasota. Thanks to Veterans for Peace for sending us. There are over 100 Women vets registered here today – most form Florida but some for as faraway as Vermont and Los Angeles. We are listening to the introductory speeches from the Mayor of Sarasota who is a Vietnam Vet and a representative form Senator Nelson. All led by young fireball and Veterans for Common Sense Nadine Noky. Iwill be blogging the conference today to give you some high points on our VFP blog.