Archive for April, 2009


April 14, 2009









All the time you the remark of closure having something to do with putting an end to a matter of tragic circumstances. I am not sure I can agree that it works. I will go through the motions-but with knowing my baby brother and our sister are buried in a grave in Pennsylvania,him 6 and her 11,just says to me they are dead and aren’t ever coming back.  I still see her in her coffin-I still remember the funeral attendant bringing a step stool so I could see my dead sister laying there I was still so little. I still can see my brother tumbling underneath the car that ran over him-I still see his teeth baring as he was dying in our fathers arms. I remember all the funeral-even the red jacket he wore in his casket.

They are buried-and they are gone. Yet they still live in my head-one memory of Carl is vivid when we were once playing around on the living room floor. Funny how that is.

I do not really know what the terms of getting closure are.

A little later this day I am packing a suit case and embarking on a journey. I’m going to Pearl Harbor. My son is stationed there-the plan is for me to visit the submarine he is serving on…the hope is that I might be treated to a possible short trip on the ship-but those things are yet to be determined.

The true desire I have is to visit the hero’s of the USS Arizona. I want to stand there and see the hulk of the ship and to sense what it all was. I know this experience will be moving-I am moved just by the thought of it.

I ordered the shirt and cap you see in the photo to wear in honor of those men and also stand proudly on my sons ship-as I did serve,although my duty time was cut short.

Closure? It wants to be-but most likely my gesture will be something just for me because all of my Navy time was meant to be mine alone.

My nerves are way wound up and the stress of the travel is making me jittery and ill. I understand one of the flights is over night. The sounds of a mass of people snoring and sleep noises will most definitely trigger that sound that I waited for back in barracks D that first night-waiting for everyonene to go to sleep so I could go pee. I had to pee so bad-it was painful bad. I had not been given that chance all day,and now I was afraid because of this barracks. It was when I finally felt safe-thinking all were asleep-I crept into the head and just began to pee when I was greeted “hello mister” and knocked down with a punch to the head. Those sleeping sounds will have bothered me ever since I learned the flight was overnight.

I’ve been drinking-I guess people call it a binge,but…I call it knocking my ass out so I can sleep (if sleep is what it is called…the drunk in me doesn’t allow the body to rest). My stress is so bad I requested-and got Xanax to keep me calm during the flight.

Yesterday my binge needs called for me to stop at the bar. Our town only has one-everyone one knows everyone,we’ve known each other for years long enough to love each other and hate each other and forget and return to love again. I can’t tell you all of the range of topics that have crossed the counter of the bar over all these years. Yesterdays was one that I wish could have not have been.

One of the guys is a former sailor. He heard I was going to Hawaii and commented (like the guy a few weeks ago at the laundry) that I must have been there when I did my tour in Viet Nam. It is the second time I’ve told this man I never made it to Viet Nam. Then he asked me if I ever crossed the Equater. I told him no and that I’d only been to Cuba. Then he told of the ritual sailors go through when they cross the Equater for the first time. He even said there was a name for the sailors that never have…kind of a derogatory term-and those that have get a title that gives them a rise above the newby’s.

I tried to push it out of my head. I drank my beer and left the place and as I drove home I started to cry. The memory that I do not have is the memory this man has.

The morning I was raped the officer that heard of it said to “get used to it”…over years some have said “get over it”…and then there is the word “closure”.  Listening to that man telling of his hazing as his battleship crossed the Equater made me wish I could be telling the story-the grin on his face as he spoke of the memory,I knew he was happy and that he had loved every moment of it. And I felt that always present sense of guilt that I did not serve the way this man served.It hurt so bad that I go back and wonder…how can I ever get used to it? How can I get over it?

I do know this-I cannot keep writing about this forever. My life-my parts that describe the personal hurt and all that I could say to show how rape is a crime of huge damages to ones soul.. So I have to bring this to closure and start anew with the work that is at hand for other MST survivors. I’ve told my story here-this now being perhaps the last page.

I need to move on and work seriously to advocate for change for the countless many other survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST). If you are reading this for the first time-all of these pages are the account of a male survivor. I’ve written about all the challenges that I lived through-I hope you can  find some relationship to what I am saying and hope you too can a voice and way to try to heal…I’m not sure truthfully if we will ever heal. But-I believe we can gain strength.

I will start a new blog when I return from Hawaii.

This new blog will be about all survivors and will be dedicated to fighting for changes in how the Veterans Adinistration handles the claims process for MST survivors. I will try to channel as much info to help any survivor prove their case and recieve help from the VA. I want to see changes in whom MST survivors are required to report to to file any claims. I want to help educate-as I learn,and help you find help and a voice.

I know the experience of standing at the USS Arizona Memorial will be one of the greatest highlights of my life. As a little boy those men were my hero’s and I find it a Great God that can provide me with such a journey to such a place just to teach me my life….and thier lives…and that I must learn to be content.

I will write once again soon to notify how to find the new blog.


April 8, 2009

014“It will never repay you for what you might have been” was the comment from a friend-his wife was the therapist that attended my hearing before the VA Judge in 2007.

I have found myself in this place. It is new to me. The place is a private one,so far-I think it is. The place are these moments where uncontrollable weeping sets in. I know it is my manner of thinking that may provoke the tears. But-honestly…it is thinking about my friends statement!

It is not just that he had said it. He said nothing new-nothing that I had never thought of,as a matter of fact-I’ve thought about it almost every day of my life.

As a boy my grandfather ‘Sir’ must have had something to do with my being interested in buildings-architecture. Sir was an iron worker-he worked on many of the large and historic buildings of Washington DC. I wanted to grow up and be an architect-I collected pictures of houses and house plans,small little pictures that I glued in paste books,long lost.

I’ve sat here in my woods these past few weeks and with out warning the weeping begins. It feels good,sometimes. But-the memories and thoughts that invoke the tears…just like my friend said,I can never be re-payed for what has been lost.

What the repay part of this is in reference to is the amount of money my claim against the Veterans Administration came to. It was enough to pay my mortgage-a small mortgage I had taken out to pay credit cards a few years back. I know I am weeping about that too-the safety of it,the peace of mind-but more above that,the return of something that is so dear in my heart from all the blood and sweat and tears that went into owning this wooded spot. Our home in these woods is also a direct result of my PTSD issues. I brought my family here literally homeless. We began life here in a pup tent-the kitchen a Coleman stove-the shower a 55 gallon drum on a stand-the toilet a random hole dug here and there. The shelter we ended up having (and it still stands) was built out of lumber carried home home board by board-hitch hiked almost 20 miles each day. Those days began at 0300 when I began my 7 mile hike to the main highway to hitch a ride to work a job of labor.

But-it cannot repay me for the career that I found hope that could be mine as a U.S.Navy Officer,the love I found when I faced the USS Vulcan for the first time-the sounds of the ship and the lights from her masts. I was being offered a career in this-and my brother shut those dreams down with his own jealousy.

I wept these past few weeks about many things-good and bad…my son,a U S Navy CPO has invited to attend a father son event on his submarine. He has been in the Navy since the day after he graduated high school in 1990. He has known all of his life how much I loved the Navy-the short time I was able to enjoy it. My sons both know that I was raped in an unusual experience while I served-my brother effected a story that ended me in a detention barracks. My older brother was on the ship I had requested to serve on. My sons know all of this-after all,they’ve watched me live it all their lives. That is why I weep-because of them and how they have achieved and reached the goals I wanted so much to make in my own life. I think it is of a higher Spirit that has set the timing in motion that I will be on a cruise on a U.S.Navy ship as if to offer me a private personal salute to my want and desire to have served.

I also have wept because I have come to a place in my life where I have found friends that that know the hurt I’ve known since I lived through barracks D….lived not being the choicest of words. My friend that made the comment last week about how much had been lost and how nothing could replace it-he made me weep out of the gladness there is sweet fellowship for me.

I did receive a settlement from the Veterans Administration. They assumed responsibility for the PTSD that is result of the time I spent in barracks D. I paid my land off like I said. I bought myself a newer truck with hope I might be able to travel for a while. My best thinking is on the highway-my favorite sanctuary is the cab of a truck. I paid my debts and now there is nothing left except for a gratefully accepted monthly check-forever. But-my friend is so right in what he said.

My Dad will never know. He will never know why I am crying at this very moment…as I am trying to write this. Only if the higher Spirit I know of shows him from there…my Dad will never know that the Judge sent me papers saying there was ‘no wrongdoing’-that I had been wrongly accused,and wrongly abused because of it. My father was why I wanted to be in the Navy-to show him I could deliver. I’ve always lived in the failure he settled with being my way-because he only saw that I served 7 months in the U.S.Navy-and two of those were spent in a detention barracks,just before I was escorted to the base entrance and given a discharge. My father never knew I received an ‘honorable discharge’.

I weep because of that too.

VA’s MST Policies and Treatment Benefits

April 4, 2009

The following is  listing of the laws regarding the Veterans Administration MST Policies and Treatment. I stumbled onto these by accident one day-I feel they may be more useful in the hands of MST survivors and not kept closed and only available to VA staff as the headline I failed to copy had advised. You must read them carefully-and you can use them.

Summary DocumentsSummary of VA Laws, Directives, & National Policies Related to MST


Handout summarizing eligibility and billing rules related to MST

‘Office of General Counsel MST Eligibility Guidelines’ summary document

FAQs about payment for travel

MST and the Compensation and Pension process (August 7, 2008 MST Teleconference Training Series presentation)

Overview / history of VA’s response to MST

MST-Related Laws, Directives, and Policies
Note: provisions that were changed in later Public Law, Directives, or policies appear with a cross-out line

1992: Public Law 102-585

  • Added section 1720D to Chapter 17 of Title 38 (“Veterans Benefits“; 38 CFR 17), US Code of Federal Regulations to authorize VA to provide outreach and counseling (up to December 31, 1995) to help women veterans overcome “psychological trauma” from a “physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment” that occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty.
  • Sexual harassment was defined as “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”
  • The Secretary was to “give priority to the establishment and operation of the program to provide counseling.”
  • Veteran was required to seek counseling within two years of discharge.
  • Treatment could last for up to a year.
  • Mandated education of “mental health professionals and … other health care personnel” on MST issues.

1994: Public Law 103-452

  • Amended section 1720D of 38 CFR 17 to extend VA’s authorization to provide treatment through December 31, 1998.
  • Repealed requirement that veteran seek counseling within two years of discharge.
  • Expanded treatment to men.
  • Expanded treatment to physical conditions resulting from MST.
  • Changed outpatient sexual trauma counseling, care, and services to priority I.
  • Repealed limits on length of treatment.

1995: VA Directive 10-95-030

  • Implemented PL 103-452.
  • Made MST-related “counseling, care, and services” free of charge. However, “medication copayments will be charged for services provided for nonservice-connected conditions.”

1997: Under Secretary for Health’s Information Letter IL-10-97-037

  • Based on a General Counsel Opinion (VAOPGCADV 17-97), clarified the eligibility rules for veterans seeking treatment for MST.
    • Persons are eligible for MST care and counseling services if they meet the definition of “veteran” in 38 USC Section 1720D. This includes reservists and members of the National Guard who were activated to full-time duty status in the Armed Forces. It does not include those who experienced MST while on active duty for training.
    • No minimum length of service requirements apply.
    • Veterans need not have filed a claim for service-connected disability.

1998: Public Law 105-368 [section 902 on Acrobat page 46 of this document]

  • Amended section 1720D of 38 CFR 17 to extend VA’s authorization to provide treatment through December 31, 2001.

1998: VA Directive 98-058

  • Notified VA healthcare personnel that VA’s authority to provide treatment had been extended through December 31, 2001 (as per PL 105-368.)

1999: Public Law 106-117 (“Millennium Bill”) [section 115 on Acrobat page 14 of this document]

  • Amended section 1720D of 38 CFR 17 to extend VA’s authorization to provide treatment through December 31, 2004.
  • Changed wording from VA “may” provide care to “shall” provide care.
  • Required outreach to veterans about the MST-related counseling and treatment available, particularly in collaboration with DoD.
  • Required VA to submit reports to Congress on outreach activities specified in this Public Law and on the number of veterans receiving MST-related counseling.

1999: VA Directive 99-039

  • Instituted a nationwide system (“MST software application”) to “indicate a veteran’s claim of MST; indicate if a veteran’s treatment is related to MST; and generate statistical and demographic reports related to MST”.
  • Stated that it is “important” that all Primary Care and Behavioral Health providers screen for MST.

2000: VA Directive 2000-008

  • Provided a definition for MST, based on PL 102-585: “The law defines sexual trauma as sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, and other acts of violence. It further defines sexual harassment as repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature, which is threatening in nature.”
  • Given the need for “confidentiality and sensitivity to the impact of MST on veterans”, mandated that all staff receive education on MST-related issues.
  • Mandated screening all veterans for MST.
  • Per Millennium Bill, required outreach, particularly in collaboration with DOD, to help overcome barriers to treatment.
  • Required all facilities to designate an MST Coordinator.
  • Required all facilities to implement the “MST software” and “track MST patients.”
  • Required monitoring treatment rates for MST, aggegrated by gender.

2004: Public Law 108-422 [section 301 on Acrobat page 4 of this document]

  • Amended section 1720D of 38 CFR 17 to make VA’s authority to provide sexual trauma counseling to veterans permanent.
  • Extended MST treatment to active duty for training (ADUTRA) service members.

2005: VA Directive 2005-015

  • Specified that Medical Center Directors are responsible for appointing a designated MST Coordinator.
  • Medical Center Directors must also ensure that a “MST Counselor(s) or Team” is available so that all enrolled veterans are screened for MST.
  • Mandated “necessary staff education and training.”
  • Scheduling for outpatient MST-related care should be within 30 days, consistent with VHA performance standards of scheduling for special populations and mental health clinics.
  • Required documentation of screening, referral, and treatment for MST-related care, aggregated by gender via use of the MST software and MST clinical reminder.
  • Specified that even veterans who are otherwise ineligible for VA health care benefits based on length of military service may be provided MST-related care.
  • Stated that veterans receiving MST-related counseling and treatment should not be billed for inpatient, outpatient, or pharmaceutical co-payments.
  • Veterans “need to be informed of their eligibility to file a claim for service connected disability compensation” and told how to learn more about how to do this.

2007: Code of Federal Regulations, Title 38, 1720D (38 CFR 17) [section 1720D on Acrobat page 204 of this document] Note: This document loads VERY slowly.

  • Title 38 description of coverage of veterans’ benefits related to MST, as last updated in 2007.

2008: Uniform Mental Health Services document (VHA Handbook 1160.01) [section 24, Acrobat page 42 of this document in particular, although other sections also reference MST (e.g., section 9, Acrobat page 13)]
Memo releasing this document
Note: Our June, 2008 MST Teleconference Training Series call and our PowerPoint on VA Laws, Directives, & National Policies have more information about this document.

  • Describes mental health-related services that must be available at every VA facility.
  • All facilities must install the MST clinical reminder in CPRS.
  • All veterans must be screened using this reminder.
  • Veterans who request treatment must be provided free care for mental and physical health conditions related to MST. Determination as to whether the care is MST-related or not is made by the clinician providing care and is indicated by checking the MST box on the encounter form for the visit.
  • Facilities must monitor screening, referral, and treatment related to MST, aggregated by gender, by using the clinical reminder (for tracking screening) and the MST encounter form checkbox (to track treatment)
    Note: The MST clinical reminder and encounter form checkbox are what is used by the Office of Mental Health Services and the MST Support Team to evaluate local screening, referral, and treatment. If they wish, facilities may also choose to use stop code 524 or purpose of visit code 55 for monitoring of treatment, as suggested by the Uniform Mental Health Services Package and Directive 2005-015. However, this should be in addition to, not instead of, the use of the MST encounter form checkbox.
  • Scheduling priority for outpatient care is consistent with VHA performance standards for scheduling clinics.
  • Veterans may be eligible for free MST-related care even if they are otherwise ineligible for VA services.
  • Every VISN must provide access to residential programs that can provide care for conditions resulting from MST.
  • Fee basis is permissible if clinical, resource, or geographic reasons make it not feasible to provide counseling in a VA facility.
  • Every VAMC must have an MST Coordinator who monitors and ensures that national and VISN-level policies related to MST screening, education and training, and treatment are implemented at the facility; serves as a point person and a source of information and problem-solving for MST-related issues at the facility; establishes and monitors mechanisms to ensure that all veterans are screened for MST and have access to treatment for conditions related to MST.
  • Evidence-based mental health care must be available to all veterans with mental health conditions related to MST.
  • When clinically indicated, facilities are strongly encouraged to give veterans the option of being assigned a same-sex mental health provider (or opposite-sex provider if the MST involved a same-sex perpetrator).
  • “Necessary” staff education and training must be provided.

2009: VA Directive 2009-012

  • Specifies that MST-related care is not subject to outpatient co-payments