No More Whispers, Let’s Discuss MST (#scarletlettervet)

Let’s Open the Discussion About MST’s (Military Sexual Trauma)

A distressed mind is steering the keyboard πŸ˜•.

MST related PTSD. Are my wounds not as legitimate or real because I have all limbs? Is that even okay to ask?? I am unsure as to the political correctness. I want to speak about what is only whispered about: Military Sexual Trauma (MST), the scarlet letter of the Armed Forces.

“I did not fail my commitment to the United States Air Force”

I don’t want to have a long talk today; I simply want to say it is time to speak out loud, not whisper in private conversations. If my left arm were a prosthetic or I had a combat zone tour, I would have clear… I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes attempting to craft a sentence in which I am sure to not offend any particular groups, but then I am taken back to the actual questions: Are my wounds not real? Was my trauma less than another’s that has seen combat? Why is my traumatic event whispered about?

Dress Blues, Basic Training, Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX

It is time to start speaking out loud, survivors. The rug we were brushed under needs to be shaken out. It is time to speak about MST, for this is how the healing starts.

I’ll start my conversation: I am Jaime Renee Cruz. I enlisted in the United Stated Air Force at the age of 19. My future was bright and I had so much hope (I cannot type that sentence with dry eyes). I suffered an MST at the age of 20. What followed was a tragedy of events in which my experience was invalidated and I was punished. I was home and had my first child by the age of 21. It was a whirlwind. In a two-year period, the person I had been, was buried in the recesses of my mind. The person I became, while not a bad person, was frozen and numb. I finally walked into the VA in March, 2018. I learned I had PTSD a week later. I spent 25 years embarrassed by my service because I had believed I failed to complete my commitment and was treated as such by the Air Force. My youngest daughter stated to me, “I don’t understand. How were you not a veteran and now all of a sudden you are?”. I was that embarrassed by my service. Pandora’s box was opened and there were twenty-five years of repressed emotions packed into it. My healing has begun.

BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform), School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks AFB, San Antonio, TX

After two decades of feeling shamed, I can now proudly (maybe with some emotions poking through) acknowledge, to myself and others, “I did not fail my commitment to the United States Air Force”. I saw my field of battle in Guam. My wounds, while possibly not visible to the untrained eye, remain.

I am a #scarletlettervet. My wounds are real.


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