Army War veteran/MST veteran adjusting to going back to school.

Anonymous, United States Army

I am a 28 years old Army war veteran. I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that resulted from being raped while serving. I am a student attending a small yet prestigious liberal art college. There have been talk on here about military sexual assault survivors returning to college and I have added my two cents but feel that there is so much more to say.

I went back to classes today after a long weekend. I was able to complete most of my work and academic wise I am doing fine. Emotionally I am a mess when sitting in my classes. I sit in the back seat always, partly due to my PTSD and safety and partly because I feel that nobody should have to see me. I sit quietly with tears rolling down my eyes. For no reason other than I feel like an outside. I feel like I am ostracized. I simply do not have anything to say to the 19 years olds in my class who are living without a care in the world.

It is being ostracized that is the worst. It brings such emotion from my time in the Army that I feel like I am back every time I step inside a classroom. I know that my classmates are not doing it on purpose. I  know that I do not make myself the most approachable while wearing my BDU blouse and sitting in the back crying but the hurt is still all the same. I can put on a fake smile and pretend to care about the keg party that is going on that evening but quite frankly I could care less. I don’t want to change who I am to make friends. I want to make friends who understand what I have been through.

Most who attend my college are wealthy, suburban kids straight out of high school. They were just starting high school, some were still in Junior High when I was being raped in a war zone.  They do not have much real life experience. At times I just want to scream that there is more to life than the mall.  I want to scream to them that there is more to life than parties. I want to scream to them that I WAS RAPED. I WAS TOLD THAT I AM A LIAR. I LOST MY CAREER. DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW THAT MAKES ME FEEL? Instead I keep quiet and sit in the back alone.

We do not have a veterans organization or support on campus. Veterans Day came and went with more thought on being another free day off than the meaning behind the day. Like last year I requested a ceremony to honor our military on Veterans Day and they felt that it was not appropriate. They instead display books on Veterans in the library as we are some sort of case study and said that they are doing more than enough to observe Veterans day. Last year during a showing of the film Lioness I requested to be part of the panel to  answer questions about the film. I was denied because I did not have enough experience. I did not have the credentials or the degree to speak about women at war. According to my college a PhD who read books on combat has more credentials than a war veteran to speak about war.

My college  wants to put me on a medical leaves of absence while I deal with my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The idea of not being able to go back to college in the spring scares me. The idea of not having anything to do next semester scares me. I was actually looking forward to the spring semester and felt that it’ll be a change from the norm. I signed up for 2 on-line course, an internship, leaving only 2 classes to be taken on campus one is the internship class which only meets a few times a semester so pretty much just one three credit class which I think was manageable. The Dean of Students contacted my Professors and a couple wrote back saying that I make them feel uncomfortable, that I make them feel unsafe. I sit in the back of the classroom, alone and do my work. I am sorry that I make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I am sorry if being a quiet, depressed veteran scares you. I fought to protect your freedom and I’ll never hurt you.

I feel the same emotions that I felt when I received my discharged papers. I am no longer wanted. I am broken. Something is wrong with me. As I watch my classmates without a worry in the world caring more about the keg party than the final papers I feel envious. I know that they have a greater chance of graduating college than I do. I know that they have a greater chance of being happy than I do. I know that they have a greater chance of living out their goals than I do. Yes I am envious of them.

 

9 comments

  1. Hang in there, you are correct none of those kids have a clue, but don’t let them or your school win, by chasing you away with their ignorance. Keep fighting and accomplish your goals. Things will never be like they were, try to embrace the good and accept the bad. You are a valuable person and as a veteran, I salute you and your sacrifice. Keep fighting the good fight.

    1. “Army War veteran/MST veteran adjusting to going back to school.
      I read your post and I am very sorry you had to go through this ordeal. am a Vietnam vet, suffering from PTSD and understand how difficult it can be to try and pick up your life and move on. I wish you all the success possible. I have over a number of years followed this crises, compliing these stories in hopes to bring more attention to this. If you don’t mind, and believe me I do understand that you want to keep your privacy, however, without yours and other stories the public at large will never have a full understanding of what you and so many others are going through. I would like to get in touch with you if you don’t mind. As I said before I do understand if you would rather not, but I hope you will. Her is my email address. hsand65579@aol.com.
      Wishing you Peace Love and Happiness.
      Henry

  2. You are so strong and deserve to be treated so much better. Go to your local American Legion, speak with one of the officers about the treatment the school is giving you and other veterans. I’m sure you are not the only veteran with PTSD attending their courses. The American Legion will help you get treated the way you deserve to, and will shame the school publicly for being so unwilling to help veterans. If the local American Legion can’t do anything because they are too small, try talking to the legal reps at your VA hospital/medical center.

    My father is deeply involved in the American Legion at a National level and his friends at the VA hospital fought so hard by my side for my own benefits because of PTSD due to rape. Reach out to any and all veteran/military associations, one, if not all, will stand up and fight by your side for what is right. They do so much for our vets and ask for no spot light in the media.

    I’m commenting using my Facebook, if you want to contact me there and give me the town your school is in I can bring the issue to my father and he can take it to the National Officers of the American Legion and they can start pushing the school back. It’s absolutely absurd and disgraceful that they do not have a VA or veteran rep. If anything, maybe together we can stand up, side by side, and get that changed. That would help you and any other veterans out in starting to fight back.

  3. if you had a leg injury and it prevented you from running, you would understand why you couldnt compete in the race. being that you have an injury of your mind, it may be hard for you to understand, because there is this not wanting to accept the fact, that you are injured, i went through it. i had to drop out of school a year ago because of the ptsd i was suffering. i had not realized that i had been diagnosed, and thought it was another disorder, that should have not had such the impact on me that it had. i sought out therapy because i knew something was wrong, and i am now making strides to over come my issues, and am excited to see what new things i can learn about myself in the coming weeks. i am working now at beating ptsd, and taking my own life back, maybe it is something that you should consider doing, get your own mind healed, so that you can then be a stronger voice of reason, and one that is respected for having gone through the difficulties, rather then because you have some letters by your name.

  4. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with any of this. You signed up to protect and defend our country. You should not have to defend yourself. You matter and you are strong. Most people have no clue what the price of their freedom is and the cost to our Veterans. Please know that you matter and that the ignorance of others does not define you. I hope and pray that things improve for you. Thank you for your service and for your courage to speak out now!

  5. Wow, this hits home. I could have written this nearly word for word several years back. Hang in there, your education is something that can never be taken from you. Remember that you are strong, no matter what violence was done to you. It is hard to connect with people who don’t understand what hell you have been through, especially ones who look down their noses at veterans. Don’t stop trying though, you will eventually get through the worst, and sometimes the new people we meet can be the ones to help through.

  6. Firstly, my warm greetings to you. I would merely wish to convey only one thing to you: Believe.
    That is it; if you believe that you too can succeed and achieve your own goals, in spite of the dark past that you hold, you will be able to do so. I may not fully empathize with you as I haven’t experienced such a thing. However, I can assure you that I am able to understand your plight and that I fairly grasp the magnitude of your distressing situation. You are a rape victim- that is a fact, but it is a fact which belongs to the past. Live in the present, combat those nightmares, for you are truly a formidable fighter. What happened was not of your fault- I know you must be familiar with this sentence, but please, know that this sentence can work miracles. If you are not to be blamed, then why suffer, Ma’am? If you are innocent, then why ruin your life? You said your other classmates have more chance to graduate, to be happy and to succeed. Why is that so? You too CAN live the life you’ve always wanted to. This can be possible only if you overcome these venomous tentacles of the past. My advice would be to go out in the nature, breathe in fresh air, meet new people who have no connection whatsoever with your up-till-now life and practice meditation. Your life can change, Ma’am, only if you are willing for it to do so. I can only advise and motivate you- as well, I can also pray for you.
    Have faith And God Bless.

  7. You have lived an experience that few people had the opportunity to live. You realize what this means? You have developed a potentially difficult to find in others. You need to master and resume the situation and find what you could learn from this experience. best regards

  8. Please be strong and know, in your heart, the pain you feel now can truly make you a stronger, capable, and loving person after you have healed. Your story, which I found by accident trying to find the meaning of the term, “MST,” touched my heart and brought me back to my days as a liberal college freshman trying to sort out my feelings of war and service, at a time when no branch would have wanted me, anyway. Without knowing your school or classmates, however, please don’t write them all off as being without cares or concerns. At the time I sat in my classes (so long ago!), I had just lost my youngest sister in a car accident. I cried every day, at night or in the car, for over a year, and still do so occasionally to this day. My cousin now, who was raised in a life of privilege so unlike mine, sits in classes at some prestigious school somewhere with her father in prison and her mother dead due to what was, more than murder, a tragic family accident. You write the stories of your classmates in your head, and have the power to give them better stories that would allow you to connect with them.

    You are still young yourself, even if you don’t think so, and even though you have seen so much more of the world and been hurt so much more deeply than most your age and younger. Although their pains and losses may not compare to yours, try to find your value in that you helped make the world safer for them, such that they do not have to worry about being child slaves or subjected to forced labor, and that you have played a part in making the opportunity of a college education available to them as well as to yourself. But, most of all, please allow yourself to heal in order to take advantage of these opportunities, and please do everything you can to make that happen.

    You were betrayed, which is one of the hardest things you will ever face in life. I don’t thing you are broken — I think you are wounded, but with the capacity to heal. And, from my life experiences, I can say without hesitation that I love you, truly, and hope with my heart that your heart can find love again, too, because that is what we all need more than anything in the world. I hope for you strength and courage and even some luck to help you move forward when you are able to do so. And thank you so much for sharing your story.

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