************** This morning, as I deal with my non-problem of cleaning out accumulated crud ... I am thinking of my sisters.
My over 160,000 American women sisters who have been deployed so far to Iraq and Afghanistan. (Compared with the 7,500 deployed to Vietnam.)
Research into post-traumatic stress disorder has generally be done on two distinct populations: civilian women who have been raped, and male combat veterans.
But since a 2003 report financed by the Department of Defense revealed nearly one-third of female veterans seeking health care through the VA said they experienced rape or attempted rape during their service, 37% multiple times, 14% gang-raped, ::!!!:: it's likely we are currently generating a whole new group -- women who have experienced sexual assault and combat, many before they turn 25. Especially since a study after the Gulf War showed both sexual harassment and assault rise during wartime.
I think of the raped young mother of two, a crumbling wreck since her return, who did not report her rape ... "You don't expect anything to be done about it, so why even try." ... and all her sisters.
And the raped woman only six years short of receiving her military retirement benefits who bailed out after repeated incidents ... "That was my career, and they stole it from me. ... Why is the attitude always 'Just shut up and leave it alone?'"
The Department of Defense has made policy changes designed to address sexual harassment and assault. But of 3,038 investigations made in 2004 and 2005, only 329 resulted in the court martial of the predator. More than half were dismissed for lack of evidence.
The Iraq war has created tens of thousands of female war veterans. Female soldiers have flown fighter jets, commanded battalions, lost limbs, survived stints as PoWs, killed insurgents, and come home in coffins. And been raped. Many already experience the psychological fall-out. As of last April, the VA had diagnosed PTSD in 34,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. (A good-sized town, that is.) 3,800 of these veterans are women. Given that PTSD often takes years to surface, these numbers will grow ... to be joined by those from new deployments.
Who, and how, are we going to be there for these tragedies in the wreckage of this war?