Tuesday, September 19, 2017

MST PTSD - My Story

I am diagnosed with MST PTSD with Major Depressive Disorder.

For those not familiar with the acronyms it is this:

Military Sexual Trauma Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It's the diagnosis given by the VA (Veterans Administration) to consider me permanently 100% disabled and unemployable.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines MST as:

Military sexual trauma, or MST, is the term used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that a Veteran experienced during his or her military service
The definition used by the VA comes from Federal law (Title 38 U.S. Code 1720D) and is "psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a VA mental health professional, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training."
Sexual harassment is further defined as "repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character."
Am I talking about the good natured volley of remarks tossed back and forth between women and men Marines? No, definitely not. I knew joining a male-oriented branch of the service I would definitely be in the minority. I didn't mind that.

What crossed the line was unacceptable sexual advances, unacceptable touching, sexual advances without consent, and the occurrence that haunts me every single day and night of my life since it occurred:

Being drugged and repeatedly raped by a number of Marines in their barracks. I have no recollection of the time I left the base with friends in their car, stopping and picking up some male Marines, who offered me a beer and that's it. I regained consciousness - naked, in a bunk with a naked male Marine in the act of sex, with other male Marines looking on. Fear for my life raced through my mind. I vomited, then vomited more. Naked, in need of the facilities, they made me walk naked through the barracks hall to the community bathroom facilities. I raced back, begged for my clothes and left as quickly as I could without inciting more violence.

Because, that's exactly what it was. A violent act of betrayal and abuse and violation of me and my body.

  • Where was I?

  • Was I even on my base?

  • In what direction was the Women's BEQ?

  • What time was it?

  • What day was it?

  • Who were those Marines?

  • What did they look like?

  • How am I supposed to report this?

  • Where were my keys?

  • Where was my ID?

  • What if I got pregnant?

Eventually, I found a guard on duty, asked in what direction were the Women's BEQ's, was able to get in my room by knocking and crossing my fingers my roommates were there, and then taking a shower. A LONG SHOWER!!

I tried to not think about what happened. I forced it to the back of my mind, stomped it down, and covered it up.

I didn't report the incident. How could I? Who were the Marines? What barracks was it? I couldn't even re-trace my steps. I had no recollection! No memory. Whatever drugged they used took care of that.

Instead, as with all the other sexually traumatic events in my life, I pushed it to the back of my mind where I force things I don't want to think about or re-live and went on with my life.

I did have a pregnancy test - Negative, Thank God!!

As for me, I continued with my jobs on base, continued to date, continued to enjoy the e-Club, but with a lot more caution, never accepting a drink from anyone unless it was unopened or I saw it being mixed.

However, the traumatic event ate through my restraints, surfaced at inopportune times, and began to manifest in more physical issues:

  • Migraines
  • GI Issues
  • Sleep Issues
  • Eating Disorder
  • Weight Problems
  • Memory Issues


  • Relationship Issues
  • Psychiatric Issues


When did this violent violation of my body occur? 1980
When did I report it to the military? 2012

32 Years Later

My lawyers (several law firms) worked for nearly 5 years to get a positive response from the VA. 

2017, I finally received the 100% Permanently Disabled and Unemployable rating.

That's 37 years later, nearly 40 years. 

Treatments I Endured During that Time:

CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)
EMDR - 3 TIMES! Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing
Talk Therapy - Group Therapy
Relaxation Therapy
Written Narrative Exposure
Narrative Exposure Therapy
Personal 1 on 1 Therapy

I have not tried TMS - Trans Magnetic Stimulation; as it's still considered experimental by my insurance company.
Does that change how I feel? No

Does that make the pain go away? No

Did it automatically stop all of the physical issues I had? No

I still have:
  • Migraines
  • GI Issues
  • Sleep Issues
  • Eating Disorder
  • Weight Problems
  • Memory Issues
  • Relationship Issues
  • Psychiatric Issues
But, with the help of a new psychiatrist, we have discovered the missing pieces that make up my complicated puzzle.... I must explain the MST PTSD to my other Physician Specialists, so that they aren't chasing ghosts to explain my issues. 

There is hope. There is positive momentum forward.

For the first time in nearly 40 years, I believe I can find peace. I'll keep you posted.

If you are a victim or know someone who is a victim of MST - please follow the instructions below:

How can Veterans get help?

For more information, Veterans can:
  • Speak with their existing VA health care provider.
  • Contact the MST Coordinator at their nearest VA Medical Center.
  • Call Safe Helpline at 1-877-995-5247 to get confidential one-on-one help. Safe Helpline provides 24 hour a day, 7 day a week sexual assault support for the Department of Defense community.
  • Contact their local Vet Center.
  • Veterans should feel free to ask to meet with a provider of a particular gender if it would make them feel more comfortable.
  • Veterans can also learn more about VA's MST-related services.