The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Archive for May 2011

Washington Seeks to Fight Military Sexual Trauma…But What’s the Best Way?

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“What I had to deal with in the Air Force just about destroyed me,” [Vietnam Vet JoAnn] White told The Arizona Republic. “I hope telling what happened to me will help other women. I am fed up and tired. I want the word out there.”

The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has unfortunately forced many around this country to wage a different war, one not fought with guns or missiles, one fought with lawsuits and legislation.

Military sexual trauma (MST) is an issue our military has been dealing with for a long, long time. Take JoAnn’s case, she’s still unable to work because of the abuse she sustained from her peers while serving in Vietnam.

And obviously, the problem of MST persists to this day:

Last year, 3,158 sexual assaults were reported by men and women serving in all branches of the Armed Forces, according to the Department of Defense’s Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. But the department estimates that last year’s number reflects only about 13.5 percent of the total number of assaults on men and women in active duty last year.

Another estimate from the VA says a mere 10 percent of the total abuse cases which occur are actually reported.

Many are trying to change that, including our lawmakers who introduced the “Defense Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance” — or Defense STRONG — Act last month:

If passed, it would give military sexual assault victims the right to legal counsel and to transfer to another base after making a complaint. The bill also would mandate increased training on bases to prevent sex assaults.

But is the real problem for MST victims the lack of resources or the “culture” of the military itself?

Many believe that the best way to get at the root problem of sexual violence is through training early in a military career.

“Correcting the culture within the military is being done in a very pointed way,” said Joice Jones, a civilian social worker who coordinates Luke Air Force Base’s sexual assault prevention and response program and helps run prevention workshops.

Jones compares many of the airmen and airwomen stationed at Luke to first-year college students: They are away from home for the first time and need information about date rape prevention as well as how to intervene if they see someone on base being sexually harassed or assaulted.

READERS: How can our government best address this epidemic? Does it come down to funding, is it merely the actions of a few bad seeds, or should our military look into overhauling its entire “culture”?

Written by traumalines

May 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm

A first responder’s perspective

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Despite the stress, concern and chaos, they always respond.

Those words should make you stop and think for a moment about our first responders and their actions during the recent tornados which have ravaged the south.

During and after these massive storms destroyed everything in their wake, while most residents were fleeing from the wreckage and the danger, the first responders were right there in the thick of it all, risking their lives to save others.

Here’s a first-hand look at pilot Robbie Tester’s perspective from the recent storms in the Southern U.S.:

Robbie Tester says his crew put on many hats that night, searching for and saving as many victims as they could.  He says it’s hard because you always fear the next call may be for one of your family members or friends.  But through the stress, concern, and chaos, they still always respond.

Last Wednesday, the storms so bad they couldn’t even fly through them.  Tester says, “There were numerous requests coming in for Lifeforce helicopters, but up until then we weren’t able to fly because the weather was just so bad.”

So Tester’s crew of 6 took off on the ground instead, taking an ambulance to Dade County.  Where, before they could help, they had to hide, staying safe through another storm.  “We went in basement at city hall and waited it out, and you could see it going around trenton cause you could see debris falling from tornado.”

As soon as it passed, paramedics went to work, searching for victims, seeing emotional injuries.  “It’s pretty much all trauma, the things you hear about but don’t see very often, devastating blunt and penetrating traumas.”

Tester says it was the worst local catastrophe he’s ever seen…

Click here to read the rest of the story of Robbie and his crew of first responders. Be sure to check out the video as well.

Written by traumalines

May 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized