Arthur Segaloff: Military Sexual Trauma

I was drawn to this article because first its written by a man who suffers from PTSD and should have gotten a Purple Heart, but didn’t after Vietnam; and secondly its written by a man who as a volunteer with the USO has had multiple occasion to talk with women and men about MST in relaxed, non-threatening environments.

Read More: Military Sexual Trauma .

PTSD is the universal acronym for what is known as post-traumatic stress disorder. I have been suffering from PTSD since 1972, when I returned from two combat tours in Vietnam. Personally speaking, many of my fellow ‘Nam vets prefer to drop off the “D,” as the word “disorder” carries with it a negative connotation that persists some forty years later. Many of us have learned over the years to cope with our PTSD; therefore, we don’t really consider it a disorder. Still, only 50% of veterans diagnosed with PTSD actually seek treatment—a fact that is very worrisome considering that PTSD is the third most prevalent psychiatric diagnosis among veterans (however, since the National Center for PTSD originally studied only men who served during the Vietnam War, these figures preclude any meaningful accounting for the some 11,000 females who served in-country during those years).

During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Department of Veterans Affairs began to study sexual assault of both males and females in the military. As a result, a new acronym was added to the Veterans Administration (VA) lexicon: Military Sexual Trauma, or MST, as it is known today. The fact is, when a service woman is a victim of MST and other stressors, she is very likely to suffer from accompanying PTSD. And, we are seeing these disorders in both women who have experienced actual war and terrorism and those who have not. Due to this situation, the retention rate and possibility of filling career-specialty military positions is severely diminished for women. While there are now female officers in charge of engineer and artillery units, for example, the numbers are still far too few.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter