Coast Guard

PTSD and the Coast Guard

Coast Guard Spouse, United States Coast Guard

My wife is currently stationed with an ANT Team. Last August she was breaking in as one of the coxswains on the boat. Unfortunately, she was involved in a mishap. She took for blame for the mishap since she was driving the boat. After the incident, her command blamed her the accident. She felt isolated and alone. No one at the unit talked to her. She began having nightmares and was unable to sleep. On top of all of this, she was scheduled to receive hip surgery in November which increased the isolation, she felt from her OINC. He told her to man up. He needs surgery, but he has a job to do, so surgery is no option. My wife served 6 years straight on an operational cutter. The hip pain wasn’t getting any better, and she tried a year of physical therapy. All the stress that the unit caused her to put on weight and again she was unable to work out because of the hip pain. In October, she failed her weigh-ins. This was the first time she failed in 10 years. She never failed before. Through all this, my wife tried to fight through it with no help from the Coast Guard. She knew she needed help so she got counseling from the Chaplain. After a few sessions, she talked about the nightmares and lack of sleep. In January, she was referred to a psychologist where they diagnosed her with PTSD. The PTSD was directly caused by the mishap in August. This was also confirmed by a Coast Guard psychiatrist in Cape May. We requested for weight abeyance since the PTSD caused the weight gain. She was denied this waiver.

The officers at Washington D.C. said discharge her and let the VA handle it. We have a copy of that email. My wife did 10 years of service for the Coast Guard and she planned to do 20 more years. To kick her out for weight is wrong. She should be given a medical board and be given medical retirement for either her PTSD or hip. The sad part also is the OINC still has a job after the way he treated her. My wife has nightmares from this guy. The unit she has now has done nothing to help her and are having her discharge in June. We contacted legal, they never call us back. We need help. The Coast Guard doesn’t care about my wife’s condition. They are just throwing her out like a piece of trash and letting the VA handle her. I lost my wife in August because of this mishap. She sleeps on the couch because of the nightmares and is on edge at all times. I don’t want to see this happen to another Coast Guard member. I hope my story helps someone.

Coast Guard

Three years and finally taking action

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

I joined in Aug 2011 and went to my first unit in Oct 2011. This was the first time I left my family back at home, and I was on my own. I was living in a place by myself. I was young, 20 yrs old at the time. I made “friends” with my unit, things were going well for the first month or so.

This one “friend” wanted more. I was stupid, and I did give him more, but not the way he wanted it. He went on and showed me the town, went back to my place, never had sex luckily, but he did push for it. We did kiss, and he did touch, but I thought better of it and said time to go. I wanted him out of my house out of my door and to be left alone. He forced himself back in my house pushed me against my wall unable to fight back and push him off. I kept saying no time to go, I tired, leave. He didn’t. I knew he wanted more, but I did not.

The next night he was texting me that he was coming over, he wanted to see me. I said no I don’t want that. Said he could break into my house that it was easy to do so. I slept with a knife and all my lights on because I was alone and scared. I never reported that, due to what was seen, we got into trouble for that. I was to scare to bring up what happened at the time, due to I was already in trouble. My mouth should have opened for that.

Few months past things were quite, then he sends me a vulgar text telling me to sit on him, that I liked it, I wanted it. Stop it, leave me alone, I kept saying it over and over again. Calling my parents crying telling them what was said. The number was blocked been blocked since then. Told command, the command just looked at me and gave me a choice to choose page 7, or bring it up to mast like. I thought a few days and being nice page 7, then thought after a while that I wanted it higher. Well, the command didn’t want that. It was left at that. 3 years later and the same guy still at the station, finally it has been brought to light what he did and he finally paying for it. Talking to CGIS and hoping for an end to this soon.

Coast Guard

Raped and still paying for it

I joined at a young age but was sure the Coast Guard was where I wanted to be. They shipped me across the country away from family to a remote area with no support. I began to receive sexual harassment from my co-workers at my unit. After filing a harassment complaint about rumors spreading about my sexual life, I was retaliated against and was sent to another unit where my issues followed. I was continually harassed.

I was raped in 2012 by a civilian but was terrified to tell anyone. I did not want to get in trouble for drinking. My performance dropped as I tried to push my depression and nightmares down. I began to drink very heavily and did not care about my career. I saw my assailant at bars around town. I finally broke down and told a supervisor what happened a year later. I thought he understood and actually cared. It turned out to be a lie.

During my CGIS investigation, I was told I was lying and was in the wrong because I could not remember specific details. I was told by my command that I was in no danger and I had to stay in the area even though my rapist had broken into my house and robbed me afterward. I was not able to sleep thinking he was waiting for me. Finally, they moved me, and things seemed to get better.

The treatment began to work, but I was placed in an area where a lot of accused offenders came to await processing. I had to stay in the same barracks where they stayed during duty, and they even placed a person who was convicted of sexual assault to work in the barracks where he had access to make keys to every room. I transferred again and continued to receive harassment from higher ups and was eventually kicked out and was forced to sit in a room with my harassers after having suicidal ideations.

I am lost because I am still in and don’t know what to do now. I am tired of having this over my head and never moving forward. I continually talk down to myself and make myself feel as if I am not good enough to be in the coast guard. How can these people who are just horrible continue to stay in and advance and victims who genuinely could do good for the Coast Guard are pushed out?

Coast Guard

The bystanders

A few years ago I was serving on a cutter in the Coast Guard (I’m at a different unit now). We were at a week-long port call and were moored up at a pier. I was on the mess deck eating lunch with a female coworker on a Monday, and she told me a story.

She said that she was out at a bar with a bunch of other people from the ship and they all got pretty drunk. After coming back to the ship, one of the guys pushed her up against a wall and sexually assaulted her. She couldn’t push him away and had to wait for someone else to walk by and pull him off of her. Another guy walked by and saw it happening, but didn’t do anything because the two of them were friends.

Now, we’re friends. I think of her as like a little sister. I was not happy when I heard this. I knew that I wasn’t thinking clearly because I was angry, so I didn’t do anything and waited until later to talk to someone else. I got her to tell the story to another female that we work with, and I said that my feeling is that we should tell our supervisor and get these two guys in trouble.

The female that it happened to said that she doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and just to let it go. The other female said that we should just do whatever the other wants to do with it. Their main thought was that we’re in a job that no one on the ship likes and the other two was thought of as everyone’s friends.

They were afraid that she would get in trouble and everyone would take the guys’ side. As much as I hated to let it, go….they were probably right. We never did anything about it. It still haunts me to this day. I hate seeing bad people go unpunished.

Coast Guard

Recently separated Coast Guard veteran demanding changes in how the Coast Guard handles rape cases.

I was separated from the Coast Guard because I reported a rape.

I am not ready to share my story.  I do want to share these four concerns that I feel should be addressed by the Congress.

1. I was forced to pay out of pocket to attend my own Article 32 hearing. I was eventually reimbursed but I was given a hard time when I requested to be reimbursed and had to tell 3 people why I was traveling.  One questioned me on why the Coast Guard should pay for a personal matter.  Apparently you have to be rich to bring forward any charges against a rapist in the Coast Guard. Unless you are sitting on a pile of cash forget about having your parents or anyone there to support you.

2.  The retaliation was worst than the rape.  Almost everyone from an E-2 to an O-7 called me a liar.

3. After reporting my rape I was the one transferred not my rapist. You’ll think that the Coast Guard would have some common sense and not transfer a rape victim away from her friends and a unit she is familiar with. In addition to being the odd new girl that left early for counseling I felt even more isolated because I was at a new unit and in a new city.

4. The Coast Guard does not allow non-Coast Guard victim advocates to serve as victim advocates. I requested Panayiota as my victim advocate and the Coast Guard denied it. Instead they gave me 3 different victim advocates within a year. By the time I felt comfortable with one they gave me a new one.  The irony of it all is that at times they did not know the answers to my questions and they’ll ask me to ask Panayiota and then requested to know what Panayiota has said so that they can know for future victims. Even though Panayiota was not allowed on base with me and at the hearing she was the only one that was stable in my life and the first person I emailed or called after getting any updates about my case.  All of the victim advocates were very nice people but I felt that they were not trained enough. Every other branch of the military allows non-military members to assist rape victims why doesn’t the Coast Guard?

Coast Guard

Base Boston, the Coast Guard, and Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault

Base Boston

It’s the headquarters for the Coast Guard’s entire First District. It’s where many victims of sexual assault in the service get sent. And it’s where, all too often, their military careers then come to an end.

read full story here and in the current issue of Boston Magazine

Coast Guard, My Duty to Speak

Coast Guardsman raped twice, still serving with rapist.

Anonymous, United States Coast Guard

A Coastie had poker night at his house. Only three Coasties attended. The other Coastie was the designated driver because he is a mormon and does not drink nor does he even play poker. Now that I think about it I am not even sure why he attended.  Knowing that I didn’t have to worry about driving myself home I drank and had a good time.

DD pulled into a parking lot of an office complex. It was evening on a Saturday and the parking lot was dark and empty.He told me to get out of the car. I asked him why and he said to just do it. I didn’t think much about it. He told me to sit down on the ground.  I thought it was weird but did it anyway. He raped me.

After he finished with me he told me to get back into his car. I was very numb and I did what he told me to. He drove me to his home. At his house he raped me again. He then told me to wash myself. He called me a dity slut and told me that I should be ashamed at myself for having sex in public. He said that all women are slut. He was very angry. He kept on swearing at me about how slutty and promiscuous that I was and how much I should hate myself for it.

As instructed I took a shower at his house. I was numbed and scared.

He told me to get back into his car. I don’t remember much after that.

Somehow I ended up at home. I woke up on my bed naked. I was still obviously very drunk. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I felt very ashamed.

Everybody loves the rapist. He’s the one that is always kissing everyone’s ass. Not to mention he is a of higher rank than me. I wasn’t going to report him.

I kept the rape to myself not telling a sole.  One night I was home and felt as if I was reliving the assault all over again. I went online and found out about RAINN. I did their online chat and they told me that they don’t have listed any support from the Coast Guard in my state. They told me instead to talk to the national guard and gave me a contact number. After talking to RAINN for a while I was able to feel more calm and it helped me.

I did not call the National Guard right away. I was very hesitant to talk to anyone. I liked RAINN because I was able to remain anonymous at the online chat but picking up the phone and talking to someone was very scary for me. Several weeks later I felt the same feeling like I was reliving the rape. I chatted with RAINN again and they told me the same thing as last time.

I looked at the National Guard website and was able to pull out the email address of the SARC that they gave me the number to. I set up an anonymous email account and emailed the SARC. She responded right away and said that she can certainly help me even though I am in the Coast Guard. She told me to call her. I waited a few weeks to call her but glad that I finally did!

First few phone calls I was hesitant to even give her my real name. She did not care. She said that she understood and was very nice to me. I was afraid that she would tell the Coast Guard what happened and that I’ll lose my career! I told her about how I feel like I am being raped all over again. She says that it is very common and it is called a flashback. We probably talked 6 times on the phone, still I was anonymous until I gained the courage to give her my real identity and meet with her in person.

I also emailed the Coast Guard SARC but never received a response. One day I got a sudden burst of bravery and called the Coast Guard SARC in my district but since I refused to give my name I was hung up on. Picking up the phone and saying: “Hello. My name is so and so and I do not know you but I want to report a rape” is freaking hard! Why can’t they understand that? Sometimes saying “Hello. I rather be anonymous for now. I was raped. What can you do for me?” is much easier. I do not know if this is a Coast Guard policy or just this specific SARC has a paranoia problem. Either way why was the National Guard able to talk to me when I did not feel comfortable sharing my name but not the Coast Guard?

The National Guard SARC said that everything that I tell her would be kept confidential and I have nothing to worry about with my command finding out. She was very nice. I opened up to her. She defintely wanted to help me. I told her about what I knew about how the Coast Guard treated rape survivors. I even told her about the Coast Guard SARC. She says that she only heard nightmares coming out of the Coast Guard and now she is seeing it first hand. She says she agrees that the Coast Guard is not doing their part to help rape survivors but since I came to her through RAINN that she would treat me the same way she treats those in the Guard.  What kind of reputation does the Coast Guard have?

She set me up with counseling. I did not like the counselor. It was nothing that the counselor did wrong except it was just not a good fit for me. The SARC right away got me an appointment with another counselor that I felt very comfortable talking to and who I still see today. I really like how she took into account my feelings. This SARC needs to win SARC of the year. She has  been great!

The SARC also recommended that I talk to the Military Rape Crisis Center because they are pretty much the experts when it comes to Coast Guard rape. I emailed Panayiota with my fake email address and she also reassured me that it is all confidential. After several weeks of her helping me without even knowing who I was I finally disclosed my real identity. I email her these super long rants that does not make much sense yet she always have the right thing to say.  She been a lifesaver!

Panayiota hooked me up with a yoga program specifically for those with PTSD that I am trying my best to continue going because I know it’ll be helpful. It is hard to go and be around other people. I became very isolated since the rape. I don’t even want to leave my home most days.

Earlier this week we received an email from the Vice-Commandant for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Rapist made a huge deal about it and said that it is horrible that women are being raped.  He printed out the poster and put one on everyone’s desk. It makes me want to barf.   I serve with a bunch of people that start every rape prevention discussion with: “Many women would lie about rape.”  I rather be raped a million and one more times than have any of them find out what happened to me. May can’t come soon enough if I have to hear rape this rape that every day in April from my rapist.

I am diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Every evening I drink until I black out. I can’t sleep any other way. I am afraid to even leave my house. I go to work. I come home and repeat it 5 days a week. On days off I stay home. I have been a cutter in high school and recently fell back into this habit. Thighs, feets, breasts, stomach anywhere that is covered by a uniform is now filled with cuts or scars. I vist this website because it keeps me sane knowing that I am not alone.

I do not know how much longer I can go through with this. Everyday is a struggle.  I can not do this any longer.  I give up.