Ninth Circuit Court Lifts Stay Barring Enforcement of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Ninth Circuit Lifts Stay Barring Enforcement of DADT
LCR Case, on which Servicemembers United Executive Director is the Sole
Veteran Plaintiff, Succeeds Again in Gutting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
7/6/2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, today enthusiastically applauded the order issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifting its own stay of a lower court’s injunction barring enforcement of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. This move once again renders “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unenforceable by the Pentagon.
“With the wait for certification dragging out beyond a reasonable time frame, the Court has once again stepped in to require the Pentagon to stop enforcing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and this time it very well may be for good,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole veteran plaintiff on the case. “I am proud to have worked personally worked with Log Cabin on this case for more than five years now and to have represented the gay military community as the sole named veteran on this lawsuit. Despite the criticisms and years of waiting, this case has yet again successfully eviscerated this outdated, harmful, and discriminatory law.” 
The Log Cabin Republicans vs. U.S.A. lawsuit is the only contemporary successful challenge to the constitutionality of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which requires the Department of Defense to abruptly fire any servicemember found to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. In 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips found the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law to be unconstitutional after a two-week trial, and issued an order barring enforcement of the law worldwide. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently issued a stay of that order pending appeal by the government. Today’s order from the Ninth Circuit overturns its own previous stay, rendering “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” once again unenforceable. 
Nicholson added, “Servicemembers should still remain extremely cautious with information regarding their sexual orientation for the time being. The issue remains in a state of flux, although guarded optimism is certainly warranted.”
For more information about Servicemembers United and the gay military community, please visit our new home on the web at www.servicemembers.org
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Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education and advocacy on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.
*** Any photos added were not in the original posting.  They were added by me.  Thanks, Wendi.***
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Stanley Robinson, Update. Corrective Action at the Tampa VA Hospital

Hello my faithful friends and dedicated readers.  I’m glad you’re here today.  I’ve got a story to update you on.

If you read my previous blog than it’s no secret what happened to me when I went to my appointment on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, at the Dermatology Clinic at the James A Haley VA Hospital in Tampa.  If you haven’t read that blog, you should do that now before reading any further.  For the rest of you, here is what I hope is the “rest of the story”.

When I got home on Tuesday, I had a migraine that didn’t finally go away until I woke up this morning.  It took a dose of imitrex on Wednesday night to finally be rid of it.  It was no doubt brought upon by my encounter with Stanley Robinson, LPN.  My Dermatology appointment had been rescheduled for yesterday at 1:40 and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t frightened just thinking about it.  I dreaded going back there just knowing there was the chance that I’d run into Stanley Robinson, LPN, once again.  I knew I was obsessing but I couldn’t help myself.  I kept replaying the events of Tuesday over and over in my head.  Could I have avoided that situation somehow?  Was there something different I should have done?  What did I do wrong?  I was getting more and more anxious as the morning wore on.

There was a phone call.  Isn’t there always?  The phone rang at 9:47 yesterday.  I know the exact time because I checked my call history.  Thank goodness for modern technology, right?  It was Patient Advocate Patty calling to ask me to meet her and the “Director of Nursing” before my Dermatology appointment.  She said that the “Director” was anxious to meet me to discuss what had happened on Tuesday.  My regular followers know that I no longer drive due to the number of medications I’m on.  Couple that with the fact that concentration is a huge problem for me.  I have the concentration of a two year old.  If I told you how long it’s taken me to write just these few paragraphs you probably wouldn’t believe me.  That makes me a HUGE road hazard.  I told Patty that my wife was driving me to the hospital that afternoon and I wasn’t sure when she would be getting home from work or what time we’d be leaving our house.  We agreed it was best to meet after I saw the doctor.

Oh yes … you read it right, my friends.  Terri took the afternoon off to take me to the VA Hospital.  All I can say is thank goodness for my wife.  She is truly a blessing in my life.  You’ve never met my wife, have you?  For starters, Terri and I both grew up in Chicago.  Okay.  That’s not entirely true.  Terri calls herself a Chicagoan.  Have you ever heard of Mount Prospect, Illinois?  You have if you are familiar with Chicago suburbs.  For the rest of you, unless you know someone who lives there or you’re from there, it’s a bet I’m willing to take that most of you have never heard of Mount Prospect.  For all intents and purposes, most Chicago suburbanites will say they are “Chicagoans”.  I am a true Chicagoan.  I was conceived there, born there, raised there and stayed there until that day on October 5, 1976, when I boarded the plane to leave for Fort McClellan, Alabama, for WAC basic training.  BUT … this is about Terri, not me.  I just felt obligated to explain the difference between a “real” Chicagoan versus a “faux” Chicagoan.  (Terri is going to kill me when she reads this “explanation” …. she WAS born in the city of Chicago.)

Terri is protective when it comes to those she loves and cares about.  She was furious when she heard what happened to me on Tuesday.  I was almost relieved that she wasn’t there.  If she had seen how I was treated by Stanley Robinson, LPN, I have no doubt she’d have attempted to tear him to pieces.  Seriously.  Terri hates a bully.  Stanley Robinson, LPN, is a schoolyard bully.  That’s the best way I can think of to describe him.  On the other hand, I knew that between Rocco and Terri, no one was going to hurt me yesterday.  Rocco doesn’t bite but Terri does.  I’m glad Terri is on my side.  Still as the morning wore on, I was getting more and more anxious.  Terri got home from work, changed into civilian clothes (she works for the Pasco County Fire Department) and off we went with Rocco at my side.
We arrived early for my appointment (it’s a habit of mine developed in the Army) and when I checked in to the Dermatology Clinic I noticed an immediate change in attitude.  The same woman who checked me in Tuesday, checked me in on Thursday but her demeanor was completely different.  She actually smiled at me and looked me directly in the eyes.  When I said to her, “Please mark my chart “No males”, she immediately responded with, “Yes, no problemo!”.  Okay, I can handle the Spanish.  I understand simple Spanish.  I told her we’d be waiting outside and she said, “Yes, yes” and out the door we walked.  A couple minutes later, a female nurse walked outside and told us that “Robin” (the PA I was there to see) had just started her 1:20 appointment and would be with us next.  Terri and I just looked at each other.  I told Terri I’d never been treated this well before.  It was apparent that someone had actually talked to the staff in this clinic about my complaint.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Ten minutes later, another female nurse came out to get me and escorted Terri and I back to the exam room to see PA Robin.  PA Robin was, as always, amazing.  She brought in Dr Baldwin (a female) to consult and together they took care of my issue like the professionals they are.  I’ve never had a problem with PA Robin.  She’s always taken spectacular care of me and Rocco likes her, too.

After I was seen and treated, we were escorted to the front desk to make a follow-up appointment.  I was shocked at the VIP treatment.  This was the first time I been treated with such respect by all the staff in the Dermatology Clinic.  Once that was completed, we were escorted to the conference room where our meeting was to take place with the Patient Advocate.

Terri and I walked in and I was a little taken aback to see three women in the room.  I was expecting Patty the Patient Advocate and the “Director of Nursing”.  I was introduced to Loreen Doloresco, MN, RN, NEA-BC, Associate Director, Patient Care/Nursing Services and Pamela H. Smith, MSN, ARNP, Women Veterans Program Manager.  I introduced them to Terri, “my wife” and none of them blinked an eye.  They welcomed her like a long lost friend.  

Once again I was asked to tell the story of what happened to me on Tuesday and I did that.  Yes, it was upsetting but I had Terri with me and the ever present Rocco at my side.  They got to see first hand how Rocco responds to me when I get upset.  Rocco jumped up in my lap and began to kiss away my tears and lick my face as if to say, “It’s okay, Mom.  I’m here for you.”  They asked Terri what he was doing because I had stopped speaking and Terri explained it to them.

I can’t tell you how much time Terri and I spent with those three women but I assure you it was quality time and it was productive.  They didn’t just hear me.  They listened.  They were interested in what I had to say.  Not only that, they were interested in what my wife had to say.  Terri told them that the kind of day I have at the hospital effects her, too, and she’s right.  She doesn’t know which Wendi she is coming home to after I’ve been to the VA Hospital.  If I’ve had a “good” day, she’s going to have a good night.  If I’ve had a day like Tuesday, she’s going to spend the next few days trying to calm me down, pull me out of a hole, she’s going to try to reach into my darkness to try to find me, she’s going to stand by with a box of kleenex.  She knows she can’t touch me when I get like that because I can’t tolerate it.  The slightest touch and I’m jumping clear out of my skin.  She has to speak before coming up behind me so I’m not screaming in fear.

They promised me that corrective action would be taken and judging from the way I was treated when I walked in the door of the Dermatology Clinic, I believe them.  They seemed sincere in wanting to rectify the situation.  For that they have my thanks and gratitude.  It may just start in one clinic but hopefully, with expanded training, it will spread throughout not just “my” VA Hospital, but other VA Hospitals across the Country.  No Veteran should suffer the humiliation that I did last Tuesday be they male or female.

The Women Veterans Program Manager told me about lunchtime seminars she is trying to get started at the Tampa VA Hospital.  I’ve promised her that I will help her spread the word.  Her goal is to get 100 female Vets to show up for the seminars.  I’ll start attending.  Will you?  Let’s show her there are 100 women Vets in the Tampa area willing to listen and learn about programs that can help and educate us.  Stay tuned to this blog for further updates.  I believe the next one will be held in August or September.  I’ll announce it here and on the new VAWATCHDOG Facebook page.

Let me tell you about the power behind those three women.  When we met, they repeatedly mentioned that they’d read my blog.  I had given the Patient Advocate, Patty, one of my business cards and it lists the URL’s to this blog and to VA Watchdog Today dot Org.  I was impressed that they had taken the time to read what I had written.  How many of my blogs they have read I can’t say, but they’ve definitely read the blog prior to this.  AND … they took action for me.

Do you remember my rant about the cancellation of all my psychology appointments?  Someone with the power to change things at the VA read it.  I got a phone call this week regarding those cancellations.  I now have appointments with my psychologist scheduled every week through the end of October.  In my heart I know that came from my meeting with those three incredible women.  Thanks to all of you for making that happen.  You’ve probably saved my life.  I am sincerely grateful to you for making that happen.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons from all this, my friends.  In my case the system worked.  I had a dear friend with me on Tuesday who witnessed my humiliation.  She refused to let the offender get away with it and forced me to go see the Patient Advocate.  I had the good sense to get the offenders name.  Without that, there’s nothing the Patient Advocate can do for you.  The next time you have a run-in with a VA employee, it’s okay to get angry.  Don’t scream and yell.  That won’t do any good.  As difficult as it is, do your very best to remain as outwardly calm as you can.  I was in a barely controlled rage, I admit it, but somehow managed to hang in there long enough to get his name.  Stanley Robinson, LPN.  Take that name and go straight to the Patient Advocate.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Don’t scream at the Patient Advocates.  They are there to help you.  The more information you can provide to the Patient Advocate, the better off you are.  If you are complaining to the Patient Advocates at the Tampa VA Hospital than you are damn lucky.  They care.  They really do.  Just look at how quickly they acted on my case.  Look how quickly changes were made.  Look how quickly I got all those psychology appointments.  Yes, they care, Friends, they really do.  They went to bat for me and I got help.  Does the Patient Advocate help in all places and in all cases?  Probably not.  I’m sure you all have your “horror” stories to tell me.  Where are those of you with success stories?  I know you’re out there.  I can’t be the only person in the history of the VA that the Patient Advocates have helped.  Speak up.  Let me hear from others the Patient Advocates have helped.  Let’s give these hard working folks some credit that I know they deserve.  Email your stories to me and I’ll publish them here in this blog.

I’m also blessed to have a wife who stands by me no matter what.  Thank you, Terri.  You are my angel and I love you.  I don’t tell you that enough.  For those of you out there lucky enough to have a spouse or significant other as wonderful as mine, take the time to say “thank you” and “I love you”.  I don’t do that often enough.  Through thick and thin, Terri is always there for me.  It hasn’t been easy for her.  Those of you with PTSD know how difficult we can make it for our spouses.  If you’re a spouse, you know first hand how rough it is living with one of “us”.  I owe a lot to Terri and every day that she stands at my side is another day that I am grateful for.  Even though I have my days that I can’t stand to be touched; I don’t want to be next to her; or she frightens me just by walking up behind me, I know that she loves me and she’s here to support me through the best of times and the worst of times.  I am loved.

Until the next time …..

News Update Concerning Straight Talk Forum -We’re Closing 10 June 2011. Say Goodnight, Gracie.

Hello, Faithful Readers.  The last time we discussed Straight Talk on this blog, I was bringing you the news that the Straight Talk Forum had moved from Google Groups to our current home located at http://www.straighttalkforveterans.com.  In June 2010 (in case you don’t want to click on the referenced link) I wrote:

I have news.  I’ve been telling you about Jim Stricklands’ Google Forum, Straight Talk for Military Veterans since we opened it last October.  It has grown tremendously and I’m proud to say I’m sure we’ve helped a lot of Veterans along the way.  The beautiful thing about Straight Talk is that all the advice doesn’t just come from Jim Strickland.  It comes from the members.  Veterans reaching out to Veterans and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.  The moderators, Jim, Womenvets, Painter &; myself have an easy job.  We just sit back, approve new members, moderate messages and occasionally get rid of members who can’t/won’t abide by our simple rules:  no bashing of other members and no cussing.  Be respectful of everyone.  How hard is that?  We chip in and offer advice, too, but the board runs itself and isn’t dependent on any one singular person.  In my opinion, Straight Talk is an overwhelming success and I’m not just saying that because I like Jim Strickland and call him my friend.

Today I come to you with different news.  We’ve outgrown our current location so we’ve decided to shut our Straight Talk doors effective June 10, 2011.  
I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this project for the last year.  Jim, Leo — I couldn’t have done it without you two.  My thanks also go out to the “regs” who gave so generously of themselves to other Veterans.  I appreciate all of the time that you donated so freely to Straight Talk.  And to the (literally) thousands of subscribers, thank you for being there, day after day.  I know who you are even though you never introduced yourselves.  You see, I had access to all the names behind the scenes. I know who the lurkers are and I know you were there, reading and learning.  To everyone who shared, you have my everlasting appreciation.

Not to worry, faithful readers.  You can still reach us in many ways when you are in need of assistance.  Jim has his mailbag open on VAWatchdogToday dot Org.  To submit something to the mailbag, email Jim Strickland at Jim912@gmail.com.

If the mailbag doesn’t work for you, Jim can be reached through his Q&A Forum on Stateside Legal at http://www.statesidelegal.org.  Stateside Legal, if you haven’t checked it out yet, is a terrific site with a load of resources for your every need.

And then there’s me, Jim’s faithful sidekick and partner in crime.  You can contact me at WendiG@vawatchdogtoday.org .  If I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll point you in the right direction.  I’ve found that Jim has answered most of your questions on VA Watchdog Today dot Org  but most people just don’t know how to do research.  I know how to search for your answers and I’ll be glad to assist you.  You can also post your questions as comments to this blog and I’ll be happy to post the answers here. 

Jim and I are both on facebook.  I haven’t been keeping up with my page as well as I should lately so the best way to get my attention on facebook is to private message me.  I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how to join facebook and add the two of us as friends.

What does the future hold?  That depends, faithful friends.  We are considering other options but we haven’t decided on anything firm.  A lot depends on how all of you react to the closing of Straight Talk.  Will you miss us?  Do you want Straight Talk resurrected?  How would you improve it if we brought it back?  What changes would you like to see?  Straight Talk was for you.  Tell us what you thought was the best and the worst of Straight Talk.  If we bring it back, we’d like to incorporate your needs, suggestions and ideas.
Keep your eyes on this blog and on the Front Page of VA Watchdog Today dot Org for further updates … if there are any to be had.  😉

Until the next time ……

In the Navy? One day you can marry on base. The next day you can’t. If you’re gay that is.

The Navy is riding high these days.  My congrats to Seal Team Six for taking out OBL.  In my opinion, his death is long overdue.  I heard the Seal who fired the kill shot is a married man.  Interesting that the Navy would announce such a thing.  Why would that matter to the general public?  Who cares if the shooter was married, single, black, white, purple, green or (gasp) rainbow colored!

It leads me to wonder if they were prepping us for the next big announcement.  On May 9, 2011, Stars & Stripes published an article entitled Navy says chaplains could soon perform same-sex unions. Could this be the Navy’s way of telling us the “married” Seal is gay and to reward him for his heroism they were timing the release of this announcement as a show of support?  Stranger things have happened, right?

Unfortunately, for gays in the military who, for just a moment had a shred of hope, this didn’t last very long.  Just this morning I woke to a ticker announcement on Good Morning America stating the Navy had reversed it’s position on this decision.  That didn’t last very long, did it?

Why the sudden change of heart?  It’s clearly explained in this article, Navy Plan to allow same-sex marriage on bases draws opposition. The article states that after the plan to allow marriages on base was announced it drew criticisms “from dozens of members of Congress”.  So of course, the Navy bowed to political pressure and back peddled so fast we didn’t even have time to spread the good news that same sex marriages were going to be allowed on base in the first place.  

What a crying shame.  Here the Navy had the opportunity to lead the way…again.  They brag in the news about taking out OBL.  They deserve props for that.  They brag in the news that “sensitivity training” is progressing towards the certification of the repeal of DADT.  They brag in the news they will soon begin to allow same-sex marriages on base.  The policy was published in April and released a few days ago. Why did they wait so long?  You have to wonder about that.  The timing is certainly suspicious, don’t you think?  Just as quickly as it was announced, the policy was rescinded due to pressure from Congress.  

What the hell, Rear Admiral Tidd?  DADT has been repealed.  You took a major step forward in announcing that same-sex marriages would be allowed on base.  What a coward you turned out to be.

Until the next time, my friends…..

Not just another MST story

Hello Friends!

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.  We met online several months ago.  Her name is Kate and she’s a 25 year old Army Veteran from Indiana.  Kate joined the Army right out of high school.  After completing basic training she was sent to her military occupational specialty (MOS) school, 92M, Mortuary Affairs Specialist.  Not exactly an MOS you want to have during wartime, is it.  Kate is an Iraq War Veteran — I’ll let you put her MOS and being an Iraq War Veteran together in your own head. 

Kate was in the Army for just under two years.  While recovering from surgery due to an injury she suffered while on a training mission, Kate was brutally raped.  Kate was a 20 year old E3 at the time.  Her unit, rather than help her deal with the aftermath of her assault, elected to discharge her from the Army.  They didn’t believe that she was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and accused her of “acting out”.  Fortunately, the VA believed her and she’s properly service connected for PTSD due to military sexual trauma (MST).

Some time after Kate got out of the Army, she had a terrible skateboarding accident.  As a result of that accident, she’s spent much of the last two years in and out of the VA Hospital, she’s had multiple surgery’s trying to put her body back together again, and she’s losing her eyesight.  But has that stopped my young friend from moving on with her life?  Hell no.

I have to tell you this.  My young friend Kate is truly an inspiration to me.  When we first started talking she’d been in a wheelchair for almost two years.  After her last surgery, she’s finally walking again.  She just completed the Blind Rehab Course at the Hines VA Hospital in Chicago.  She’s working on her Bachelor’s degree in psychology with help from the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program.  Her first book entitled “My Invisible Injury: Life After A Traumatic Brain Injury”  is ready for publication and will be on sale in roughly 45 days.  Be sure to check my blog for updates on that.  No matter what happens to her she cares about her friends and family first and foremost.  This young woman keeps up the good fight and never quits.

Kate’s next major project strikes very close to home.  Not just to Kate and I but to 1 in 3 female Veterans as stated by Tammy Duckworth on her last Oprah Show appearance.  What makes it worse is that Ms Duckworth stated that 95% of women don’t report this to our superiors.  What am I talking about?  Military Sexual Trauma.  MST.  It’s at epidemic levels in the military right now.  It strikes at men and women.  No one is immune.  Kate has decided to put together a book about MST.  She wants your input, my friends.  And she’s here to ask for it.  Folks, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Kate.
Kate bowling.  Nothing stops her.

Tennis anyone?

All dolled up and ready to go.  Meet Kate Paterson.

Hi ladies and gentleman,

My name is Kate Patterson and like all of you I had the terrible experience of military sexual trauma. I have decided that it is an epidemic and I want to write about our experiences.

I feel that this is often put on the back burner. Many vets don’t even know they can get compensation for it. I do, a lot of my rating comes from learning that I can get compensation for what I experienced while on active duty!

That day still haunts me and it always will.

But, I am going to take power over it and start a book of short stories from women and men veterans across the United States.

I want people to understand what we have gone through. Because fighting on the battlefield is a memory I can place on the back burner, but sexual trauma I cannot.

I would like to have everyone’s stories emailed to me- katieleighpatterson@gmail.com within the next three months.

I am in the process of having my first book published. I have been working on that one for 2 years.

So, you can be anonymous and not have your name associated to your story or you can identify yourself as whomever you would like.

Just let me know!

Thank you all so much,

Kate Patterson

There you have it, my friends.  Straight from Kate herself.  Please, contact her.  Share your story.  As Kate says, you can remain anonymous or not.  It’s up to you.  Kate can’t do this without your help. Won’t you tell her your story?  I’ll be putting mine in writing.  If my story helps empower just one intended victim, I’ll have done a good thing.  That’s how I will be looking at this.  I’ve blogged about my assaults enough times.  Anyone who has read my blogs is familiar with what happened to me.  If you can’t read them because they are triggers, I understand that, too.  Still, I will do my part to help Kate tell this story.  I believe in Kate.

Until the next time ….

Women Vets are Second Class Citizens? Impossible? Read on.

When was the last time you were at a street fair and you approached a table set-up for a Veterans Organization. Did they hand you a membership application to join the Auxiliary? How many times has this happened to you when you expressed an interest in joining the organization? Too many times? Yeah, me too. And I’m sick of it. Why? Because I don’t belong in the Auxiliary. I belong in the main organization. I AM A VETERAN. I AM A WOMAN VETERAN. HEAR ME ROAR. (Thank you Helen Reddy) How dare the men who sit behind the tables and “man” these booths assume that I am not a Veteran. The wives are just as guilty. They assume we want to be in the auxiliary with them. Sorry ladies, I’m a Veteran myself. I have nothing in common with you. I’m not the wife of a Veteran. I don’t know how to communicate with you. I don’t want to swap recipes with you. I don’t want to swap stories with you. I don’t have pictures of children to show you. I need to share with other Veterans who understand me. I want to talk to women Veterans who are MST Survivors. I want to know how they deal with male Veterans on a day to day basis in VSO’s where the men don’t want us.

This is a common problem. I received an email from a friend of mine who told me a story about one service organization who tried to recruit her husband into the main organization while was being recruited into the auxiliary. When she corrected the “recruiters” and told them SHE was the Veteran, not her husband, they not only apologized, but they offered her one year of free membership. They were so impressed by her she ended up being an Officer in that particular organization. If all the organizations admitted to this mistake and offered free memberships they’d go broke!

What about the service organization that is now targeting women? You know the one I’m talking about. They have a big push now in their attempt to recruit women. Their recruiting efforts target ALL women. It isn’t until you start digging deep that you realize it isn’t a NEW organization. It’s one of the big three and they are targeting women who have served in Iraq & Afghanistan. What about the women who served in Vietnam, WWI and WWII, Panama, Grenada and other places women have served. And let’s talk about my favorite … the forgotten group of Veterans. Veterans like myself who served in Germany before the wall came down. Cold War Veterans. We used to joke that if the balloon went up we had less than three seconds to put ours heads between our knees and kiss our asses goodbye. We saw death on the Fulda Gap. We saw death on the Czech border. We saw death when terrorist groups were killing our GI’s in Frankfurt. Remember Badder-Meinhof? Remember the Red Army Faction? Remember when General Alexander Haig was on his way to his retirement ceremony in June of 1979 and terrorists tried to assassinate him? Do you remember SMLM Vehicles? I remember all of that. I was there and so were thousands upon thousands of Cold War Veterans who served in Europe. Yet our service isn’t good enough to be considered “combat service” for entry into this particular VSO. I’ve commented to their website and asked about it. My comments didn’t even make it past their moderator for posting. Yep, another case of second class citizenship… this time by other women Veterans. Disgusting.

It’s not just the service organizations that treat us this way. It’s the VA Hospitals that treat us this way. We’re tired of it. I’m tired of it. A couple weeks ago I went in for a CT Scan of my lungs. I specifically requested an all female team. The consult was written that way. When I was taken back to the exam room, a female student handed me a gown and told me to change into it. I looked over to my right and there was a male technician in the room. I asked, “Who is he and what is he doing in here?” The young student told me, “He’s the technician.” I looked around and there was no changing room. I was expected to change into the gown with him sitting right in the next room with nothing but a glass window separating us. Screw that. I told the student, “Get rid of him, he’s not doing my scan and I’m not changing with him in here.” She went in the next room, said something to him, I could see her shrugging her shoulders, and then he opened the door to the hallway and apparently called for someone else. The student came back into the room and told me it would be just a few minutes because he was “doing something important”. I could see what that “important” task was. He was browsing the internet, looking at airplanes online. The student asked me if I was going to change into the gown and I told her I was not changing until he was gone. It made me wonder, how many women changed while that jerk sat there in the next room? How many women thought they had to change and couldn’t ask for a woman technician? Second class citizens? You’re damn right we are. Speak up, Women! We don’t have to stand for this. We have rights. The young student who was assisting with my CT scan may have not known it, but I sure know it.

These days I don’t leave the house without my service dog, Rocco. I can’t. I have PTSD because of things that were done to me by male GI’s. Does that mean I hate all male Veterans? No. It just means that I am wary of them. It means that I can’t be in a crowd of people anymore. It means that I can’t stand to have my back exposed anymore. It means that I hate leaving my house. I’d rather stay at home 24/7 where I feel safe. On those rare occasions when I do leave the security of the house, I have Rocco at my side. He’s still in training and he has a long way to go but he makes me feel safe. Still, I have to deal with ignorant and rude comments from the public. The worst comments are from male Vets at the VA Hospital.

When Rocco and I go to the VA Hospital, why do Veterans feel the need to try to distract my dog? One ignorant male Veteran had the nerve to roll up next to me and told me, “You’re petting your dog wrong.” This particular Veteran had “fuck you” tattooed on his thigh in two inch letters so I’m sure he wasn’t offended when I told him to “Fuck off and mind your own business.” I get Veterans asking me if I’m training my dog to give to a Veteran. What the hell? I AM a Veteran. Why do they think I’m standing there waiting to be seen?

Just trying to get the VA to pay for Rocco as my service dog has been a battle. Is it because I’m a woman Veteran with a service dog? The guy in prosthetics told me it couldn’t be done and argued with me. I left prosthetics vowing to prove him wrong and before I’d left the hospital that day he’d called D.C. and found out I was right. He left me a voicemail telling me I was right but never once apologized. Would he have treated a male Veteran the same way? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill because I have a problem with male Veterans and this jerk is a former ring knocker?

In case you’re wondering, I haven’t named any of the organizations I’m ranting about because I’m sure you all know who they are. I don’t need to call them out by name. They are also the same service organizations who offer their assistance with your disability claims. I say, let us help you help yourself with your claims. No one cares about your claims as much as you do, right? (Here comes the plug, folks.) Go to Jim Stricklands A to Z Guide for all your disability claims issues and questions. If that isn’t enough for you, than go to our Straight Talk Forum. We can help you. Guaranteed. You’ll get personal attention like you’d never receive from any Service Organization.

C’mon, women. Speak up. Talk to me. How tired are you of being treated like a second class citizen by the Veterans Service Organizations, the Veterans Hospitals, the Veterans Administration, and other Veterans both male and female. Can someone please tell me why the service organizations keep trying to push women Veterans into the auxiliaries instead of letting us join the main organization where we belong?

What we need is a Service Organization where ALL Veterans are welcomed. Is there such a thing? Is there an organization where women Veterans won’t be pushed into joining the Auxiliary? If there is such an Organization name it and I’ll title my next blog after you.

Until the next time ….

Lover Official Music Video – Tom Goss

I sure hope this link works. If not, click on the title of this blog and it will take you directly to this video. It’s a beautifully done video tribute by a man who loses his Soldier/Lover to the war in Afghanistan.

The point of the video, for me anyway, is that it doesn’t matter who you sleep with. We can all wear the uniform. We can all fight for our country. We can all die for this country. We all bleed the same color of red. Sexuality doesn’t matter.

Contact your Congressman. Let’s get Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repealed.

Until the next time …..