A little work

After group at the VA today, I hung out at Travelers and started making a list of the deities and heroes I need to address for the session at PCon in February. I ended up quickly reading through 2MT on my phone to collate a list of the figures associated with healing there, but I know there are other resources I'll have to go through.

When I got home, I posted an inquiry on my FB about the problems I'm having with Google Maps and trying to plot out a multi-stop trip. One person suggested MapQuest, which works much more easily but doesn't recognize my mom's address as existing. It can get me to her town, and I can use Google Maps for the bit from the highway to her place, as that program does actually know where it is when I tell it how to look. I tried working with my GPS on the project, but that doesn't do multi-destination trips either. I can, however, probably use it from point to point for realtime directions, though I will have to see if it can find mom's place. That will require my going outside, though, (when the weather is very slightly warmer - it's 27f right now) because it can't find the satellites from inside my place. I don't want to stand around outside in sub-freezing weather while the damned thing spends ten minutes trying to think.

At least I feel like I'm making a little progress on this stuff. I'll probably get a call tomorrow from the Ashland Hostel to take my information for my bed there on my way to PCon. That'll be another thing accomplished.

A bit of stressful stuff. Possibly triggery.Collapse )

CFP: Iron Maidens

Feminist dialectic brings 'em
About Iron Maidens: an E-Anthology

Iron Maidens is an e-anthology with a purpose. Two purposes actually.

This anthology was born to fill a gap in the speculative fiction reading experience. Far too often in fiction, especially speculative fiction, strong female characters have faced sexual abuse somewhere in in their past. Frequently it is their only motivation for their acts of heroism, valor, and general kick-ass attitude. While there is a place for tales of sexual violence – both to show how terrible it is and to show that survivors can be more than just people who were once victims – it is not the only thing that can spur women into adventure. Women are fully capable of holding their own within the worlds fantasy without having first been subjected to sexual violence. We would like to prove it with a collection of stories from many voices across the fantasy genre.

The second purpose is directly linked to the first. All sales of Iron Maidens will be donated to the organization SAFER: Students Active for Ending Rape. In their own words SAFER “empowers students to hold their universities accountable for having strong campus sexual assault policies and programming.” This student run, all-volunteer collective is active on many university campuses across the United States, offering a variety of resources to help students, facility, and parents work together to make our universities a safer place to learn. Their cause is admirable and their goal is one we should aspire to hold everyone to in all phases of life – before, after, and during college. By helping them we help us all.

I hope you are as excited about this project as I am! Please take the time to check out our submission guidelines and frequently asked questions. If you have any questions please email ironmaidensanthology@gmail.com. (Please title the email “Query – [question summary]“) Thank you for taking the time to visit!

Got it done!

Boys will be rapists
My presentation today went very well. Both martianmooncrab and alfrecht were there with me, as was danicia's mom, who was the programming director for this year's con. She actually introduced me and was extremely interested in the presentation as she, like martianmooncrab, retired from the Navy as a chief. There were two other women in attendance, one of whom was an attorney who took cases like this against the system. There were about a dozen or fifteen people who showed up, and one guy from the Coast Guard had a lot of good stuff to say and was really wonderful as a participant. It was very much an open discussion session, more than just me lecturing, and that felt really good. We did have the obligatory clueless guy asking stuff like "what about people who file false reports" (yes, it happens, but considering what happens to people who report at all, anyone reporting falsely on stuff like this has to be insane to pursue it) and "what can we tell women when they're going in the military so they can avoid being assaulted?" (oh, hey, let's teach women how not to be raped -- yeah, let's teach men to keep it in their pants, fuck you very much).

One guy was a sex educator and he was extremely interested in this whole topic. He suggested that I talk to the various organizations for sexologists and sex educators/therapists about the topic, as he said he's been going to conferences for those organizations for something like 15 years, and he's never heard anyone speak on the topic before at all. Apparently, getting some education out there to the educators would be a good idea. It might be something I could do from time to time. He gave me his card, and info on the two organizations that he's a member of, so we'll see what happens with that. If I'm able to handle the idea, it could be very helpful to folks who are in the business of helping people recover from sexual traumas.

After my session, we went to alfrecht's session on Celtic werewolves, which I think went over quite well. We were joined by martianmooncrab's sister, and then the three of us went out for lunch. It was the Mooncrab's birthday today, so we celebrated that as well, then sister took off and the two of us returned to the con. We had some good conversations, one of which was with the national Mensa treasurer. He was handing out free scotch and doing glasses adjustments (I believe he's an optometrist in his daily life). We ended up having a long conversation with a table full of people about my talk, warrior issues, and other related stuff until the treasurer had to go to the national board meeting, but the conversation continued without him. One of the women at the table was a recently-divorced officer's wife who had been teaching stuff like The Art of War to officer candidates. Another woman had been talking with alfrecht for a couple of hours after his presentation, and whose son is interested in working with people with PTSD, and is also very interested in Celtic topics, so the work we've been doing with the schmooze related to the warrior rituals really fascinated her.

Overall, it was an excellent day. I'll be going back again tomorrow by myself, and will then haul alfrecht back over to his cousin's place at the end of the day. I'll be able to get the con parking rate for my car, since he's a registered guest of the hotel for the night.

Sunday will be my day to visit with the Portland folks I've been wanting to see. I need to make a couple of brief phone calls, but siro_gravity, please get in touch with me and let me know when on Sunday you'd like to get together. Definitely shoot for afternoon if possible. Morning is going to be a bit much for me. lupagreenwolf, if you're no longer feeling the ick and not contagious, please let me know, as I'd love to see you as well. I also want to take some time to get together with Raevyn, whom I met at Eight Winds last weekend, and who is also in the area. Maybe we can coordinate something group-ish. I'm sure it would be a fascinating afternoon of talk and art, if that's the case!

My thanks to everyone who was so supportive today, both at the con and long distance. Your thoughts and good wishes were greatly appreciated.

And now, laundry.

It's a solstice celebration

praise manannan
I had a stressful day with transportation, missing my exit for the Navy depot and having to track back from the next exit, but I did make it there to pick up alfrecht on time. We came back here for a couple of hours to deal with some things I needed to do then headed down to Seattle to pick up Caera. Sadly, I ended up sucked into the vortex of doom that is the downtown Seattle maze when the onramp to I-5 I was trying to get to turned out to be closed.

The Manannán ritual itself went quite well, I think. Seven of us showed up for the ritual and we had a very nice feast. Caera did some lovely music for us, and there were musical and poetic offerings as well. I will admit I was still stressing pretty hard about the Mensa talk, but I've at least got some notes toward an outline now. alfrecht was really helpful with that and we talked a bit about everything. I'm going to go in saying that I might not take up the whole time for the session, due to the troubling nature of the topic, but that I might be available to talk to people later if they have questions. That should give me an out if things get too heavy to handle. I'm also going to talk to the folks in charge of the speakers about what to do if there's harassment at the talk -- rape and sexual assault and harassment are topics that tend to bring the assholes out of the woodwork, at least on line, and I don't have any intention of letting anyone get away with bullshit while I'm talking.

I can actually turn the notes into an outline tomorrow while I'm continuing my prep for the road. I feel slightly less stressed now that I've been able to get this much of it done and have organized some of my thoughts on the topic.

Talking about women veterans' issues

Insane: What's Your Excuse?
I spent some time today dealing with the Brigid altar, as my flamekeeping shift is today. It's very bare-bones, but I put up the shelf and the new statue is on it, the flame lit on the table below. It already feels much better with the different statue; this one doesn't have a moon crown, for one thing, which always drove me crazy about the previous iteration.

Rambling about the talk.Collapse )

Finally past the post

Northwest forest
I've been doing enough better today to actually get a couple of loads of laundry done, in addition to snarking about the Pagan Scholars list whatsit. Tired, yes, but at least functional again.

I sent off photos and a description of what happened last month when the construction company rattled my apartment enough to send a mounted decorative paving stone crashing down onto my altar, which broke not just the paving stone, but my Brigid statue. I've only asked for them to send me a check to replace the statue, not the paving stone. I have my suspicions, however, that they are going to try to tell me "you should just glue the hand back on." Perhaps, however, they won't be that way. It could happen.

In addition to feeling up to doing a little work around the house, I also popped out for a couple of hours to the AFK to hang with some friends. It was Pirate Night, and the place was wall to wall. They had a DJ spinning nautical songs, piratical tunes, and sea chanties, which was fun. There was also some young sprout's 21st birthday in progress tonight. I'm pretty sure that my birthday, taking place on a Sunday, is not going have to compete with standing room only pirates, though I will admit that might be fun.

World politics once again has me gritting my teeth. I'm pretty sure that by this time next week, the US will have its fingers dug into Libya, as if we didn't have enough trouble with Afghanistan and the troops that remain in Iraq despite the "end" of the war there. Things continue hotting up over there, with no-fly zones, bombings, and UN sanctions. Really, if we just got the hell out of the wars we're in, we wouldn't have a trashed economy and a horrendous deficit. Funny how the military sucks up billions of dollars we could be using elsewhere.

Japan and the region continue to be rocked by earthquakes after the big one last week. For those who are interested and have not yet contributed anything, a specifically Pagan effort is being run through Doctors Without Borders via Peter Dybing, CoG First Officer's fundraiser. I sent along a few dollars and hope that if you are able, you can as well. Getting funds into disaster areas that are unattached to evangelization efforts is desperately important. The Wild Hunt today was talking about how various dominionist Christian groups are claiming that they prayed the earthquake into being so that they could cause conversions in Japan or, conversely, blaming Shinto for the earthquake and of course sending missionaries over there to trade food and medical aid for souls. Sickening bunch of vultures.

From the Veterans For Peace email list

Not a Patriot
Media Advisory: Military Rape and Sexual Assault Litigation - Feb. 15

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, a group of U.S. military veterans who allege that they were raped or sexually assaulted during their international and domestic military service will discuss at the National Press Club at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, their forthcoming federal-court litigation, which will have been filed earlier on Feb. 15.

Scheduled to speak at the news conference in the National Press Club Murrow Room are:

• Several of the veteran plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

• Keith Rohman, president, Public Interest Investigations, Inc. (PII), Los Angeles, Calif.

• Eleanor Smeal, president, Feminist Majority Foundation, Washington, D.C.

• Anuradha Bhagwati, executive director, Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), New York, N.Y.

• A representative of the veterans' legal team.

Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, 281.703.6000, info@powersmediaworks.com.
Not a Patriot

On Tuesday February 15 the PBS television news magazine Frontline will be on LaVena Johnson. VFP is collaborating with the Johnson family to ensure that the truth about their daughter is told. I am recommending that you host a Chapter meeting / community event when the documentary is shown. As many of you know, LaVena is from St Louis. We have the honor of working directly with the Johnson family.

The documentary is going to highlight sexual trauma in the military. In this case, it was originally announced that she had committed suicide. However, through the 5-year investigative commitment the family has uncovered the truth. It is our hope to show it again at Webster University then have a Q & A afterward with a panel of experts.

In March, the Women's / Sexual Trauma Working Group will be initiating a coordinated program to promote this issue with the Chapters. We will distributing the DVD of the original documentary to each of the Chapters for their use. You will be hearing from Chante Wolf & Rosemary Greenlee in March. I encourage you to get involved with this Working Group if it is an area that you have a strong interest.

It is especially important that VFP takes the lead on this issue and expose The True Cost Of War. I believe that VFP will make a viable difference on this issue.



From the Veterans for Peace newsletter: MST

Not a Patriot
I'm a French-American journalist and documentary director based in Paris France. I'm currently working for MAHA PRODUCTIONS, the French film company who received an Academy Award for best feature documentary in 2002 (for the film "Murder on a Sunday Morning"). I would like to gather testimony from victims of Military Sexual Trauma who have been able to Court Martial their case or who have unsucessfully tried. I would be grateful to those willing to share their experience with me. Please contact me at the below email address.

Rebecca B. Levin
Maha Productions, Paris France


From Feministing: Meet the Predators

Not a Patriot
The Yes Means Yes blog posted an analysis of some studies of self-reported rapists. It's some eye-opening stuff. The writer discusses two studies, one of college-educated men, the other of Navy members.

Most rapes are committed by the same men, over and over again. They are protected by their friends, who think "he made a mistake" or "he wasn't sure she meant no" or "it's her word against his and we don't know what really happened." These are the same men who commit acts of domestic violence and who abuse their kids.

Telling women to watch out for them doesn't stop them. Ostracizing them and changing the culture so that they can't get away with it will stop them. Believing your friends when they tell you what happened will stop them. These guys commit an average of 5 to 6 rapes each. If you hear somebody saying one of your friends did this, they've probably done it before and will probably do it again.


From Veterans for Peace: Book on women vets

Liberty & Justice OTP
Author Helen Benedict, a psychological counselor, and women veterans in search of deeper and wider understanding of the plight of women in the military.

Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen, Truth to Tell, KFAI Radio | MN

"More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War Two, yet as soldiers they are still painfully alone. In Iraq, only one in ten troops is a woman, and she often serves in a unit with few other women or none at all. This isolation, along with the military's deep-seated hostility toward women, causes problems that many female soldiers find as hard to cope with as war itself: degradation, sexual persecution by their comrades, and loneliness, instead of the camaraderie that every soldier depends on for comfort and survival. As one female soldier said, 'I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine.' "

These words from the leaf of a stunning book, The Lonely Soldier, by Helen Benedict, and describing the still-burning issues that shame our military and civilian attitudes toward women serving in the military - both highlighted in a coming Veterans Day Conference in Bloomington and a play by Chante Wolf (At War with Women) portraying the traumas women soldiers and veterans suffer in and after combat and military service. PTSD - combat and otherwise - are often no different from those of the military men we hear about all the time, themselves often forced to suck it up rather than seek assistance for their nightmares and the violence memories trigger with little warning in the middle of the night. Add the dimensions of sexual predation and humiliation by combat comrades and the recipe is disaster.


Grey news for a grey day

Boys will be rapists
From roadriverrail, the FAQ: Rape Culture 101 --

Rape culture is people objecting to the detritus of the rape culture being called oversensitive, rather than people who perpetuate the rape culture being regarded as not sensitive enough.

Read the whole article. Look at the links if they won't be triggering for you. The evidence is overwhelming.

Don't think the accusations of hypersensitivity don't happen. It happens to me on a fairly regular basis. I'm not "oversensitive" when I don't find rape funny -- I'm reacting in a perfectly reasonable way to unreasonable circumstances. Just a few months ago I dropped someone's LJ because zie was telling people to stop "acting like burn victims" in reaction to jokes of that sort.

It shouldn't be my responsibility to defend myself against rape; it should be the responsibility of every person not to commit rape.


From around the flist

Boys will be rapists
Starling explains how, to many women, any guy might be 'Schroedinger's Rapist'. If one in six women are raped during their lifetime, there's a damned good chance that about that many men are rapists. Look around you. You know several, even if you don't know who they are. And people wonder why some of us are paranoid?

There was a period of about two years when I was too afraid to leave my house alone. Now I make multi-week road trips by myself. I do it in spite of the fear, not because I'm not afraid of anything. I refuse to let fear rule my life.


A military moment

Not a Patriot
Today Feministing posted a picture of uniformed military marching for Take Back the Night against sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military.

Why is this photo significant?

Aside from the fact that it is a march on a military base, it shows soldiers in uniform marching for a cause. It shows them doing this in an officially sanctioned military photograph.

For those who do not know, it is illegal for military members in uniform to protest, demonstrate, or otherwise participate in any "political" action. If these same soldiers were demonstrating at a health care rally, marching to protest the wars, or participating in a Greenpeace action, they would be arrested and charged with violations of the UCMJ. Instead, the Army is touting this as a positive moment, and with good cause.

It shows not only awareness of the problems of rape and sexual harassment in the military but a willingness to make exceptions under exceptional circumstances. It shows a bending of the rules as a positive thing. And it shows allies in unexpected places, acting with official approval against a terrible situation.

This is a moment of hope.

Aftermath of a day (or two)

Shinto shrine
The rest of Tuesday went successfully. Software fell off a truck onto my netbook with nary a hitch and I toddled home, though rather later than I expected. Wednesday and Thursday, with foodporn and thoughts on ritual and the military.Collapse )
Not a Patriot
From the Pretty Bird Woman House blog:

A Native American woman from Wounded Knee won a historic ruling in federal court based on a century-old treaty between the U.S. government and the Oglala Sioux Tribe after she was sexually assaulted by a military recruiter.

The U.S. government must pay Lavetta Elk, formerly of Wounded Knee, almost $600,000 in damages after she was sexually assaulted by Army recruiter Staff Sgt. Joseph Kopf in his car January 2003, according to court documents. Judge Francis Allegra based the ruling on a "bad men" provision in the April 29, 1868, treaty between the government and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

That provision of the Fort Laramie Treaty "provides that if 'bad men' among the whites commit 'any wrong' upon the person or property of any Sioux, the United States will reimburse the injured person for the loss sustained," court documents filed Tuesday indicated.

The full story can be found here. For once, a treaty is implemented the way it was undoubtedly intended.
Not a Patriot
Common Dreams today shares an Inter Press Service report about the prevalence of rape in the military. Unsurprisingly, the DoD is portrayed as vastly underreporting the numbers.

We hates them we does, my preciousss.


Further notes from the war

Not a Patriot
Feministing once again picks up on the thread of women vets, rape, and PTSD.

Courtney E. Martin at American Prospect writes of consistent difficulties in getting authorized for treatment, problems in having PTSD recognized in non-combat servicemembers (especially women who have suffered sexual assault), and the toll it takes on us. This story is my story. It's the story of thousands of other women.

I fought for twelve years to get my pension. I was one of the first. That twelve years of work and suffering and hanging on through suicidal depression, chronic health problems, underemployment, relationship-destroying stresses, flashbacks, and consistent nightmares made it marginally easier for women to be rated for PTSD for non-combat related sexual trauma. It did not erase the barriers. It did not change the attitudes of the military or the VA or the men in the military and in civilian life who rape and otherwise sexually assault women and other men.

Rape and assault continues to be underreported due to continuing attitudes that these things don't actually matter. Society, not just the military, must change. This is, yet again, why we need feminism and its assertion that women are human beings due the same rights as male human beings.

From Martin's interview:

"What does combat even mean?" Guzman asks, with a fierceness she is reclaiming after years of therapy and becoming an activist. "The military uses it to prevent people from getting full benefits, but what's almost worse is that activists in the veteran's rights movement sometimes use it to separate people, too."

Even anti-war veterans sometimes sit around, sharing horror stories of their days in Iraq, and inadvertently magnify the importance of the combat classification. For Guzman and other veterans who feel ostracized from military culture, most of them women, this means enduring the indignity -- once again -- of not being seen as "real" soldiers because they do not share the combat experience.

This is certainly my experience. When I was dealing with inpatient treatment for PTSD at the Seattle VA some years ago the program was entirely set up for Vietnam combat vets. For much of my month inpatient I was the only woman on the ward. The only woman. For my own safety I was locked into my room at night. As part of my treatment I was put into group sessions with other veterans, one of whom was a man who explicitly wanted to hurt women -- I was considered therapeutic for him. Yet my own needs, fears, and triggers were ignored. I felt neither safe nor understood while I was inpatient and this doesn't even start with the indignities of attempting to have a vegetarian diet while on institutional food or the huge dead moth I once found in my spinach.

Reporting is traumatic. Dealing with the bureaucracy is traumatic. One's personal experience being marginalized, minimized, and denied is traumatic. It's all one massive ball of failure. And yet things are still somewhat better than they were when I was in service and when I was fighting this battle myself. This, however, only serves to emphasize how truly abysmal things were 30 years ago when all of this started for me.

Various Notes of Note

Liberty & Justice OTP
For the steamy folks on my list, Voltaire is playing at El Corazon in an all ages show tonight. I don't know if I'll be there -- alfrecht has wanted to go to Mount Vernon for a showing of Milk tonight. *whimper* We'll see what happens once he's vertical and conscious.

In queer rights news, Iowa has ruled that laws against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, so yay for Iowa. Let's see how long that goes before the fundagelicals fuck it up with a discrimination amendment.

For the military sexual assault issue (no, I still haven't been able to bring myself to read the report), the DoD is launching an anti-sexual-assault program. It calls on everyone to defend against sexual assault and to be aware of the problem. How about training men not to be rapists, you stupid fucks? That, of course, puts responsibility on the perps. Gods forbid men should keep their dicks in their pants. They have a website dedicated to the issue. I'm glad they're moving forward but I want to see more from them than this.
Not a Patriot
Of course they had folks who read faster than me. Apparently the report says that they got 9% more reports of rapes and assaults last year, though they estimate only 10%-20% of all sexual assaults are listed. The Pentagon continues to have little to no awareness of the situation. Why does this not surprise me? Some of the headlines regarding the situation are... really appalling.

OTOH, alfrecht says that when he was at the Navy Support depot yesterday there was a fairly large and visible sign encouraging reporting of rape and sexual assault. Maybe somebody's actually trying.
Not a Patriot
The DoD released its 2008 report on Sexual Assualt Prevention and Response on March 17th, 2009. You can read it here. I haven't had time to go over it yet, as I just learned about it from celticnavy87. When I've had a chance to look it over and think about it, I'll most likely be blogging my response to the document. Just the fact that it's finally been released is a good thing; whether the contents are useful is going to be another question entirely.

I suspect I may need sedatives after reading it. Much more information here.Collapse )

Why I am a FEMINIST part 927159874

what a feminist looks like
Because 14 year old Californian girls should not be sold into marriage by their fathers. This wasn't an arranged marriage. It was dad selling his daughter for cash, beer, and some meat. He got nailed because he went to collect her back for the guy's non-payment.


On triggers and flashbacks

Boys will be rapists
There are reasons I don't watch tv. There are reasons I don't read the papers or listen to the radio. There are reasons I don't go to most popular movies.

In 1979, when I was 18 years old, I was raped. The man who raped me, after he did it, handed me a Susan B. Anthony dollar.

This image brought all that back today. An almost pubescent boy hands an adult male lifeguard a Pepsi. They are both standing over a woman who has obviously been dragged up the beach because she was drowning. She is unconscious between them, probably dying. The lifeguard hands the kid his lifeguard shirt. The ad's title is "French Kiss." The implication is that the lifeguard is trading a soda for the kid to have a chance to molest this unconscious, half-drowned woman.

In this picture, a woman's life is worth less than a soda. My life, my body, was worth one dollar to the man who raped me. Coming on top of John McCain's airquotes around women's "health," this only adds vinegar to the open wounds of dehumanization. If you wish to contact Pepsi about this ad, please contact them here. Please let them know that images depicting the casual disregard of women's lives and women's bodies is wrong and reprehensible. Please, I ask you, consider boycotting Pepsi products until this ad is removed and apologies are made for their hideous insensitivity.

I spent the better part of the day today in flashbacks, shaky and barely able to function. I ended up drinking most of a bottle of wine to get myself numb enough to do anything through this. I imagine I'm going to be massively hung over tomorrow. I know this is my personal reaction and I don't usually drink to numb myself -- I haven't done anything like this since I was in the Navy back in 1982. I have no idea how to handle such callous disregard for a woman's life posed as "clever" advertising. This is the email I sent to Pepsi tonight:

I am writing about your ad, titled "French Kiss" -- it depicts an unconscious woman, dragged from the sea, and a lifeguard and a young man standing over her dying body, trading a soda for the lifeguard's shirt.

This ad shows such an abhorrent disregard for women that I cannot begin to explain it to you if you are the kind of person who would publish such a thing. It is not cute. It is not amusing. It is not funny. It is disgusting and it left me spending my entire day today in flashbacks to a rape I endured when I was 18 years old, back in 1979. When the man finished, he handed me a Susan B. Anthony dollar. Like the woman in your ad copy, my life was worth less than soda.

This is disgusting. This is irresponsible. This is treating women as a joke, as less than human, as objects rather than human beings. I cannot imagine how anyone would think this was clever -- it is horrifying.

Rape is not a joke. Leaving a woman dying on the sand, an object for sexual abuse, is not a joke. This ad is an obscenity and it should be removed immediately from circulation.

Why do we need feminism? Because of things like this. Because women are not objects to be traded for a soda. Because women's bodies are not to be abused for the sum of a dollar coin. Because women are human beings too.

Fuck you, Pepsi.


Reasons to hate the system

Boys will be rapists
In the UK, a man who raped a woman finally came to trial seven years after the assault. The defense counsel, based on a few pictures on the woman's Facebook account, declared that she looked too happy to be a rape victim. Because obviously people with PTSD who have been raped are never allowed to have a life again. We're never allowed to be happy. We're never allowed to try to get on with our lives. We're never allowed to actually have fun once in a while, because that means it didn't really do anything to us or that we're lying about what happened to us.

There are reasons that I got paranoid after I got my disability award. I was afraid to enjoy myself. I was afraid to run for a bus even though I hurt. I was afraid that someone would claim that I was lying about my disability -- despite the fact that I spent twelve years of my life proving to the government that I was indeed that fucked up and that the government would then take away my ability to support myself. It took several years for me to stop twitching and looking over my shoulder about these things, and I still have anxiety attacks every time I get an envelope from the government with yet another form to fill out. I still freak out whenever the government announces it wants to change the rules on veterans with PTSD and other disabilities.

We are entitled to lives. We are entitled to move on. We are entitled to have fun now and then, to smile, to dress nicely, to enjoy ourselves. Even when most of what people don't see is the days when we sit around in our jammies and haven't showered and feel awful and can't find the strength to smile or the emotional fortitude to feel well physically or in our hearts. We have the right to post photos of ourselves smiling and looking good and not have it assumed that we're miraculously cured of what ails us because of it.


Not a Patriot
Yep, a Navy chaplain is being brought to trial on rape charges, yet the Navy is dropping charges on a second rape, adultery, and other issues. Why? Because "Doing so would result in Dillman being classified as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Gittins said." Oh, poor baby; I'm so horrified for his pain.

If he's a rapist, he IS a sex offender and people deserve to know, thank you. It's probably too much to hope that he'll actually be convicted.

I'm too damned tired to write anything tonight, haven't worked on the article, and am really not in a good headspace to respond to the kind folks who have commented on my posts in the last day or so. I'm hoping I'll feel better tomorrow and write some then.


McCain, Palin, and business as usual

Not a Patriot
After the stock market collapse the other day, McCain, who had been trying to convince people he was going to bring change to Washington, now says Hours later, he used a rally before several thousand in Tampa to promise that "if Gov. Palin and I are elected in 49 days we're not going to waste a moment in changing the way Washington does business."

Business as usual is what brought us to this state.

After the news broke about Palin making rape survivors pay for their own evidence kits ($500-$1200 expense to collect and process evidence of a crime), there were some inquiries about it, but Palin isn't the only politician who has forced women who were raped to pay the police to investigate. As far as I know, the cops don't charge the victims of burglars, attempted murders, or other crimes for the evidence kits required in an investigation. So why is it that women who have been raped have to pay? Requiring women (or men) to pay for rape kits after being raped only drives down the already appallingly low number of people who actually report this crime, and this means that more rapists continue to get away with it and go on to rape other people.

And the Huffington Post reports that some conservatives are increasingly turning their backs on the Republican ticket. If even hard-core conservatives don't like the idea of McCain and Palin in office, there may be even less of a chance of them getting elected when November rolls around.


More veterans issues

Not a Patriot
First off, the feds are going to court to try to take away PTSD benefits from veterans and trying them for fraud if they don't believe they were sufficiently traumatized. One Viet Nam vet is in prison on a four year sentence because a court believed he wasn't sufficiently traumatized by watching a friend get crushed by an airplane.

Before Seventh Circuit

In a victory for Wisconsin Vietnam-era Navy veteran Keith Roberts (1968-71), the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has granted Roberts' motion for a rehearing before the full appellate court, an en banc hearing. En banc hearings are granted when legal issues in judicial cases are deemed extraordinarily complex or carry high significance in judicial policy making on the appellate level. The case could prove a major legal victory for veterans as they face an administration both hostile and negligent to veterans care.

Roberts was convicted of five counts of wire fraud for receiving U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability funds stemming from hisdiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to a Navy friend, Gary Holland, who was crushed to death during the Vietnam War combat era. Roberts has been serving a four-year sentence since March 2007.

U.S. Atty Stephen Biskupic's office had convinced a jury that Roberts and the deceased Navy airman (Gary Holland) did not have a friendship and that Roberts who was on line duty at a Naval base in Naples, Italy on February 5, 1969 at the time that Holland was crushed to death by a C-54 aircraft, exaggerated his efforts to save Holland, which constituted fraud for which Roberts was convicted in November 2006 by a jury in northern Wisconsin.

The prosecution and conviction remain controversial and a three-member panel for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in July found that, "The record might also have supported a jury determination that Mr. Roberts sincerely believed that his statements were true and that he had no intention to defraud the Government ... (but) (i)t is beyond our authority to disturb (a guilty) finding on appeal (in this case)." The hurdle for an appellate court to overturn the judgement of a jury is high. "The standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence challenges is necessarily 'a daunting one,' ... We shall not 'weigh the evidence or second-guess the jury's credibility determinations' on appeal,'" reads the opinion, citing legal precedents.

The Roberts decision is the second blow for veterans' advocates seeking treatment of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), following the dismissal of a class-action suit filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Morrison and Foerster, and other parties. In theory, any veteran both claiming PTSD and unable to verify the circumstances of stressor events is vulnerable to federal prosecution if the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) and a U.S. Atty decide to proceed in that fashion, though the VA under the Bush administration has been brushed back as its hostile posture against veterans has become public and is seen by veterans advocates as morphing into negligence and incompetence.

The granting of the en banc hearing comes as the administration is taking heavy heat for the propensity of the VA to ignore the veterans' benefits system that Congress established in 1988, the Veterans' Judicial Review Act. In one legal challenge being followed by veterans advocates, the VA is being challenged for its policy of knocking down large financial rewards for injured veterans in a new VA "review scheme (that) is punitive, discriminatory, confiscatory and contrary to the veterans' benefits system established by Congress."

In the Roberts case, the unusual prosecution was seen as punitive to Roberts for his "tenaciously pursuing a claim for VA benefits," an occurrence that is bemoaned by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Bush administration.

Dr. Sally Satel, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, hit the rising veterans' benefits costs associated with PTSD and what she derides as a culture of trauma in a New York Times op ed piece (March 1, 2006) representative of the political right's work on the topic, who appear to retain a special animus for Vietnam-era vets seeking benefits:

Writes Satel:

"(I)t's … very likely that some of the veteran baby boomers who have filed claims in recent years did so not out of medical need but out of a desire for financial security in their retirement years. Indeed, 40 percent of last year's claimants had been out of the military for 35 to 49 years. ... In any case, the rush of applications for long-term disability entitlements reflects the extent to which the culture of the Department of Veterans Affairs since Vietnam has become fixated on post traumatic stress disorder. … Only in rare instances should veterans be eligible for lifetime disability; and perhaps there should be a deadline of years after service by which claims must be submitted."

The inspector general's office found that for one-quarter of Vietnam veterans claiming post-traumatic stress, the department could not confirm any incidents of traumatic stress. A study in a leading psychiatric journal last year could not verify such history in 59 percent.

Roberts has been informed that his hearing for oral arguments of his VA disability claim before the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), (Roberts v. Secretary of the VA (05-2425)), is scheduled for October 23, 2008. Should Roberts ultimately win his case at the VA, Roberts will be in federal prison for receiving VA benefits to which he is legally entitled. Roberts has been in the "hole" for nearly four weeks in federal prison, upset and depressed that the U.S. government can inflict punishment upon an innocent veteran.

Those wishing to write Roberts can reach him at the following:

Keith Roberts 07827089
FCI "Special Housing Unit"
P.O. Box 1731
Waseca, MN 56093

And from Feministing, we have a story about a veteran being awarded full honors for his service after being a serial rapist and attempting murder on one of his victims. And in Canada, apparently, if you make a big, splashy rescue in the RCMP, nobody cares that you're a rapist. You can still get a medal:

Earlier this year, we covered the case of a veteran who - despite raping several girls and women and attempted murder - was still buried with full military honors. It looks like Canada isn't too far off, where a recent story gives us a middle aged man who is still receiving the Governor General's Star of Courage award despite pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a teenager:

"Guy Armand Raes of Airdrie was recently named a recipient of the Governor General's Star of Courage award. On Wednesday, a week after the announcement, Raes was in front of a provincial court judge pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a teen he befriended through an RCMP investigation. He will be sentenced next week.
Raes, 50, helped rescue a young couple and guided other residents to safety during a massive row house fire in Airdrie, a residential community just north of Calgary, in August 2005.

The court case has no bearing on Raes's award, according to the Governor General's office. "He is being recognized for an act of bravery that happened in 2005," said Marie-Paule Thorn, spokeswoman for the Governor General's office."

Now this is obviously a different case than a serial rapist, but it brings up a broader issue about the dismissal of sexual assault and failure to hold people accountable by military and governmental authority.


What day is it?

August 2014



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