Gentlemen with MST, we know you are there. We work with some of you, and we know the isolation and shame that you have been feeling for so long. We also know that now is the time to give up that shame and regain the peace and joy that is just on the other side of all the pain.
You are not alone. 4% of male soldiers experience MST1, which equates to almost 1 in 20 of you. The VA says that more than 50% of the veterans who have screened positive for MST are men.2 Thanks to your sheer numbers, more men have experienced MST than women (there are almost 22 million male veterans, compared to less than 2 million female veterans3). You are not alone.
Call us if you need someone to talk to who will listen with understanding and patience. If you want to talk privately and securely to other men with MST, please go here to request an invite to a confidential, all-male, online message board. They are waiting, because it is time to come home.
A male survivor who is also an MST advocate has this to say to you:
“The Silent Wounded. That is what I call us: the MST survivor . . . It is difficult to explain what it is like to enlist in the military service for our country – male or female – to be motivated to serve as an honorable duty. Our discharge papers may say under “honorable conditions,” but we feel no honor . . .
“The pain in one’s soul from being a rape survivor is no different from man to woman – the shame and guilt we feel are equally the same. Because of the way society places a stigma on male sexual assault that is compounded by the military comradeship and brotherhood instilled in us from our first day, we remain the “silent wounded.” Because of the way we were brought up to be men – the male image – these things are not supposed to happen. That is why we remain silent.
“The silence continues to victimize us . . . [but] once I found a voice through the use of the internet, I found myself with a freedom that had not been mine since the attacks on my body in 1969. I was able to speak out where once I felt I would never say a word. To understand the pain inside of you – the silence – it is like a poison and continues to eat at your soul . . . the written word of your voice gives you strength. I believe that is what the author of this web-site is offering you . . . the male survivor, to have a way to speak – to purge ourselves from the poison.
“Find that freedom. The more each of us speak up and say “that happened to me too!” the more our voice is heard further and further from the walls of our silence.
“We need to open up the eyes of everyone. The silence needs to change – awareness of how sexual trauma affects males needs to advance. We are hurting; we should quit doing it alone.”
1Source: “Sexual Assault Among Male Veterans.” Psychiatric Times. 1 April 2005. <http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/55225?pageNumber=3>
2Source: “Military Sexual Trauma.” National Center for PTSD. <http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/fact_shts/military_sexual_trauma_general.html?opm=1&rr=rr1758&srt=d&echorr=true>
3Source: “Veterans Numbers from the Census Bureau.” The Tacoma News Tribune. 16 October 2008. <http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/military/2008/10/16/veterans_numbers_from_the_census_bureau>
Since 2002, 59,690 female veterans reported being raped, sexually assaulted or had experienced another form of sexual trauma, constituting almost 20 percent of the women seen at VA facilities nationally, according to VA.
[By this estimate, over 60,000 male soldiers have been raped by their “buddies” while serving in the war zones. SEE:
“This is not a ‘woman’ problem,” said Mountjoy-Pepka. A little more than half of military sexual-trauma victims are men, mostly because they make up a majority of veterans, according to the VA.
Pack Parachute provides financial assistance and advocacy for veterans who were raped while serving in the military. The new charity adds to Seattle’s tradition of being a resource for military sexual-trauma victims.
Seattle Times staff reporter
When Amando Javier’s 15-year secret finally became too much to handle alone, he turned to the people he trusted: his therapist, his sister, his wife. They were supportive, but couldn’t help.
Late one night, searching the Internet from his home in New Mexico, he stumbled across a woman living 1,500 miles away in Seattle. Her name was Susan Avila Smith, and she specialized in helping veterans raped while serving in the military — people like him.
He e-mailed her. That day, she e-mailed back.
“She welcomed me with open arms and said she would help me,” Javier said.
“She was the only one.”
But more are on the way.
Pack Parachute, a new charity co-founded by Avila Smith this summer in Seattle, is designed to give men and women who were raped while serving in the military the financial and emotional aid they need.
Kira Mountjoy-Pepka, the charity’s director, chose the name as a reference to the job of packing parachutes for fellow soldiers in case something goes wrong.
“You don’t pack your own parachute. You rely on someone else because it can be too intense,” she said.
The same way, Pack Parachute supports military sexual-trauma victims as they seek help.
Pack Parachute’s mission is to train advocates — many of whom, like Mountjoy-Pepka and Avila Smith, are victims of military sexual trauma themselves — to help veteran victims file claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs, find and keep a job and home, or simply get the cash to buy simple things such as toothpaste and bus tickets.
“It sounds small,” said Avila Smith. But for Pack Parachute’s clients, especially those who also have post-traumatic stress disorder, “simple things get really difficult.
“I’ve been in the trenches. That’s the hard stuff.”
Advocate for veterans
Javier is not the first person whose search for help led to Seattle.
Avila Smith is known nationally as an advocate for veterans who slip through the cracks of the Veterans Affairs health-care system. After she was raped while serving in the Army, Avila Smith became a self-taught expert on helping veterans who were raped navigate the complicated VA system.
Military sexual trauma is unique in the world of sexual assault, Avila Smith said. It combines the violent, violating act of rape with the alienation and shame seen in veterans suffering combat trauma — all set within the Byzantine complexity of military bureaucracy.
In the military, reports of rape are handled by officers, who tend to value unity and conformity over individual complaints, Avila Smith said.
Victims who report being raped can be ignored or have charges levied against them — for filing false charges, exhibiting conduct unbecoming of military personnel, or adultery.
Sexual assaults are rarely reported in general, but in the military, rape victims are often threatened, intimidated or persecuted into silence by military members who are directly responsible for the victim’s safety while serving, said Avila Smith.
Kay Whitley, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office in the Department of Defense, calls the threats and persecution that can follow a rape a “re-victimization” and said it is not limited to military members.
“I think it’s a national problem,” said Whitley. “That can happen to anyone, civilian or military.”
In 2005, when reports began surfacing of sexual assaults during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense made sexual-assault prevention and response a priority and created new policies to provide victims with resources.
“With everything we have in place now, that should not be happening,” Whitley said about revictimization. “We have made big progress in a short period of time. There is a system in place to take care of them.”
The seven Marine Corps soldiers who gang-raped Javier threatened to kill him if he told anyone, so he never reported his rape, he said.
“I knew these people. I worked with them day in and day out,” Javier said. “I didn’t really know what to do because of the shame and humiliation.”
After he met Avila Smith, she hooked him up with an online support group, men talking openly about their rapes.
“This is not a ‘woman’ problem,” said Mountjoy-Pepka. A little more than half of military sexual-trauma victims are men, mostly because they make up a majority of veterans, according to the VA.
“If you’re a male in the military and you’re a macho guy and you’re raped, your shame is compounded and multiplied,” she said.
Many veterans never make it to Veterans Affairs hospitals, often because mental disorders — such as post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction — which are developed after a sexual assault or after facing combat, can keep them from knowing or admitting they need help, Avila Smith said. Half of veterans and 80 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who reported sexual trauma are diagnosed with a mental condition, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“It’s not like they walk off the battlefield and know they need to call for help,” Avila Smith said.
Launched a month ago
Since its launch a month ago, Pack Parachute has focused on recruiting volunteers, many of whom are rape survivors and veterans themselves. So far, eight people have begun training to provide emotional and financial support to military sexual-trauma victims.
RobinLynn, an advocate-in-training who goes by one name, signed on to give veterans the resources and support she says she never got.
“They didn’t have anything like Pack Parachute after I was raped,” she said. “So when I found out about it, I was like, that’s where my heart is.”
RobinLynn was raped in 1980 during basic training for the Air Force, one month into her service. She said she was at a medical facility to get treatment for a respiratory infection when a man entered the room, shut the door and raped her.
She never saw the man again, but she was too afraid to tell anyone what happened, she said. She believed what happened to her wasn’t rape because she never screamed.
“Women weren’t supposed to fraternize with the men, so I kept my mouth shut,” she said.
After completing her military service, RobinLynn tried to forget what happened to her. She threw away the decorations she’d earned after eight years in the military and wanted to move on with her life, she said.
Soon she began experiencing flashbacks, feeling overwhelming fear and having trouble keeping a job or relationship — all signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
She lived on the streets for 10 years, unable to bring herself to seek help at the Veteran Affairs hospital. The building triggered too many memories, she said.
After 20 years of silence, she forced herself through the doors of an emergency room and asked for help.
“I was so sick, but I had to do something,” she said. “It takes a lot to be aware that you need to ask for help.”
And now, RobinLynn and the team at Pack Parachute say they can start giving that help to veterans — in Seattle and beyond.
“I’m very proud of them,” Javier said.
“They gave me the idea that I am not alone.”
Lindsay Toler: 206-464-2463 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company
Kira Mountjoy-Pepka, director of the new Pack Parachute charity.
By a German correspondent
27 August 1998
A documentary broadcast August 25 by German public television presents compelling evidence that some of the main suspects in the 1986 Berlin disco bombing, the event that provided the pretext for a US air assault on Libya, worked for American and Israeli intelligence.
The report, aired by Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF television), is of the greatest relevance to events of the past three weeks, in which attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania have become the justification for US missile strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan, and a shift in American foreign policy to an even more unbridled use of military force internationally.
With Washington declaring “war against terrorism” and arrogating to itself the right to use its military might unilaterally against any target anywhere in the world, the German TV report raises the most serious and disturbing questions. All the more so, since the US media and leading Republican politicians, within hours of the American embassy bombings, began citing Reagan’s 1986 air attack on Libya as an exemplary response to terrorist attacks, and pressed Clinton to carry out similar military action.
The air strike on Libya
On April 15, 1986 US war planes bombed the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. They destroyed the home of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and killed at least 30 civilians, including many children. Gaddafi himself, the main target of the air strike, was not hurt.
Two hours later President Ronald Reagan justified the unprecedented attack on a sovereign country and its head of state in a national television address. The US, Reagan claimed, had “direct, precise and irrefutable” proof that Libya was responsible for a bomb blast in a West Berlin discotheque. The explosion 10 days earlier at the disco La Belle, a favorite nightspot for US soldiers, had killed three people and injured 200.
Since November of 1997 five defendants have been on trial in a Berlin court for their alleged involvement in the La Belle attack. But in the course of more than half a year the case has proceeded very slowly. ZDF television, which carried out its own investigation into the case, explained why in the August 25 documentary produced by its political magazine Frontal.
What the German documentary reveals
The Frontal report arrives at the following conclusions:
1) The lead defendant presently on trial, Yasser Chraidi, is very possibly innocent, and is being used as a scapegoat by German and American intelligence services.
2) At least one of the defendants, Musbah Eter, has been working for the CIA over many years.
3) Some of the key suspects have not appeared in court, because they are being protected by Western intelligence services.
4) At least one of those, Mohammed Amairi, is an agent of Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
The man charged with being the mastermind of the La Belle attack, 38-year-old Yasser Chraidi, was a driver at the Libyan embassy in East Berlin in 1986. He later moved to Lebanon, from whence he was extradited to Germany in May 1996.
Frontal interviewed the two Lebanese responsible for the extradition of Chraidi: the former public prosecutor Mounif Oueidat and his deputy Mrad Azoury. Both confirm that the German authorities used deceit to have Chraidi extradited.
According to Azoury, he received no evidence that Chraidi was actually involved in the attack; there were only “hints.” Oueidat states that the Germans showed tremendous interest in getting Chraidi. “The Americans were behind this demand,” he says. “This was obvious. They spurred on the Germans to speed up the extradition.”
Eventually Chraidi, declared to be a “top terrorist,” was flown to Germany in a spectacular security operation. But a Berlin judge found the evidence presented by the prosecution so weak, he threatened to release Chraidi within three weeks unless more proof was presented.
At this point another man was brought into the case, who, according to Frontal, “was obviously supposed to be spared by the prosecution until then.” On September 9, 1996, the very day the Berlin judge threatened to release Chraidi, Berlin public prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, Berlin police inspector Uwe Wilhelms and a Mr. Winterstein of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) met Musbah Eter in the Mediterranean island state of Malta.
The meeting had been prepared by the BND, which maintains close connections to its American counterpart, the CIA. Musbah Eter was running an international business in Malta, which, according to Frontal, served as a cover for extensive intelligence operations on behalf of the CIA.
The German authorities wanted him on a murder charge. But during the Malta meeting a deal was struck: “Immunity for Eter, if he incriminates Chraidi for La Belle.” The next day Eter went to the German embassy and testified. As a result, the warrant against him was scrapped and he was allowed to travel to Germany.
In the words of Frontal, Eter is “the key figure in the La Belle trial.” At the time of the disco bomb attack he worked for the Libyan embassy in East Berlin. But he paid regular visits to the US embassy. According to Christian Ströbele, the lawyer for Chraidi, this highly unusual fact is proven by extensive notes of the East German secret police, who watched Eter very closely at the time.
There are many indications that Eter was actively involved in the La Belle bombing. According to interrogation transcripts studied by Frontal, he had the detailed knowledge of a participant. He even admitted that he brought the operating instructions for the bomb to the flat of a codefendant.
Frontal asserts that besides the defendants in the present trial, another group was involved in the La Belle bombing–a group of professional terrorists, working for anybody who paid them, led by a certain “Mahmoud” Abu Jaber. Members of this group, according to Frontal, “have barely been bothered by the prosecution and live securely in other countries.”
In the months preceding the La Belle attack they lived in East Berlin and met, almost on a daily basis, with the present defendants. Hours before the attack they moved to West Berlin, where the bomb exploded. Their movements were monitored by the East German and Russian secret services, who concluded that they were working for Western intelligence.
The Russian KGB, in a document cited by Frontal, gave the opinion that American counterintelligence planned to use “Mahmoud” to concoct a case for the involvement of Libyan terrorists in the attack. According to the same KGB document, “Mahmoud” had warned West Berlin intelligence two days before the explosion.
Frontal followed the traces of Mohammed Amairi, the right-hand man of “Mahmoud” Abu Jaber, who, according to the documents it has studied, “was particularly involved in the preparation of the La Belle attack.”
An agent of Mossad
Amairi left Germany for Norway in 1990, when a warrant was issued for his arrest. He now lives in the Norwegian town of Bergen, where Frontal found and interviewed him. He stopped the interview when he was asked what secret service he had been working for. His lawyer, Odd Drevland, finally told the story.
When Amairi moved to Norway he was arrested and branded “a danger to the country” on the front page of tabloids. But then the Israeli secret service Mossad took charge of him and “everything changed.”
“Was Amairi a Mossad agent?” asked Frontal. “He was a Mossad man,” answered Drevland.
In the meantime, Norway has granted asylum to Amairi and he will soon receive Norwegian citizenship. The Berlin prosecutor has lifted the warrant against him.
“These secret service intrigues present a task for the Berlin court that is almost insoluble,” concludes the Frontal report. “But one thing is certain, the American legend of Libyan state terrorism can no longer be maintained.”
There are striking parallels between the 1986 bombing of Libya and last week’s missile strikes against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. Once again Washington claims to have “proof” to justify its use of deadly force. But as the Frontal report shows, such claims cannot be trusted. Twelve years after the bombing of Libya, Reagan’s proof turns out to be anything but irrefutable. Instead there is powerful evidence that the La Belle attack was a carefully prepared provocation.
It may come as a shock to many Americans, all the more so given the utterly venal and lying role of the US media, but US intelligence services are well versed in the most unscrupulous and bloody methods, not excluding those that result in injury or death to Americans. No serious consideration of the August 7 East African bombings can rule out the possibility of a provocation, organized either directly or indirectly by US agencies.
Certainly the US embassy bombings, with their terrible human toll–for the most part, African–provided a welcome pretext for forcing through a desired shift in policy and obtaining public support for unilateral military action. Indeed, within hours of the US embassy bombings, the International Herald Tribune had published a column declaring the attacks were “acts of war and the United States could take reprisals against the bombers under international law without the approval of the United Nations.”
We wait with interest to see whether any of the American television networks–CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN–or any of the establishment newspapers will even take note of the German exposé of the events surrounding the bombing of Libya. We have no expectation that they will.
|Vodpod videos no longer available.|
More than 100 Zaidi Shia fighters have been killed by government forces in the north of Yemen after fierce battles to recapture a town, government officials have said.
The deaths in fighting in Amran province in the northern mountains on Sunday included two commanders, they reported.
“There has been a discovery of 100 bodies belonging to Houthi rebels on the sides of the roads outside Haraf Sufyan,” government statement said.
“It seems these are members who had attempted to escape from the fierce fighting in Sufyan city and were chased down.”
The two commanders were named as Mohsen Saleh Hadi Gawd and Salah Jorman.
Zaidi fighters, who are also referred to as Houthis after their leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, have been fighting a campaign for independence in the north for the past five years.Sana’a launched Operation Scorched Earth against the Houthis two weeks ago in an attempt to end the insurgency.
Fighting began in the northern Saada province, which borders Saudi Arabia, and spread to Amran province.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday reaffirmed six conditions for a ceasefire, which includes withdrawal from the mountainous region and return of military hardware.
He warned that the full capabilities of the government would be used against Houthis if a ceasefire was not agreed.
Abdul-Malik al-Houthi rejected the terms, saying the government was seeking to “mislead the public opinion”.
The Houthis or Zaidi, an offshoot of Shia Islam, are the majority group in the north of Yemen but a minority nationwide and aim to re-establish the autonomous rule they held before a coup in 1962.
Thousands of people have been killed since the conflict began in 2004.
More than 35,000 people have been displaced, the UN has said.
|By Gilad Halpern|
A pro-Israel lobby group in the U.S. has launched a project intent on shifting the focus of the Obama administration away from West Bank settlements, claiming they are not an obstacle to peace and that their evacuation would amount to “ethnic cleansing.”
A manual called Global Language Dictionary, circulated among supporters of the right-wing Israel Project group, seeks to develop a strategy to downplay the centrality of settlement freeze in the American efforts to press on with the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
By CHRIS BRUMMITT
Sunday, August 23, 2009 6:44 AM EDT
A new Taliban leader could direct more fighters across the border in Afghanistan like other jihadi commanders in the northwest, joining insurgents there in the fight against U.S. and NATO forces as they try to stabilize the country eight years after the U.S.-led invasion.
Baitullah was mostly known for suicide strikes against Pakistani civilian, government and security targets.
Two close aides to another commander, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, told The Associated Press on Saturday a 42-member Taliban council, or shura, had appointed Hakimullah their new leader in an unanimous decision. Like other members of the network, they insisted Baitullah was alive but sick, hence the need for a new chief. U.S. and Pakistani officials are almost certain he is dead.
“Now all these talks of differences should end,” said one of the aides, Bakht Zada. “There have not been any differences ever.”
Mohammd Amir Rana, an expert on Pakistani militant groups, said he believed the Taliban had not agreed on a replacement, regardless of Mohammad’s aides’ remarks.
“Maulvi Faqir Mohammad is trying to manipulate the race by announcing to the press that Hakimullah is the head,” he said. “Until now there is no consensus,” he said, adding that supporters of Hakimullah’s major rival, Waliur Rehman, did not accept him.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government had received intelligence reports about Hakimullah’s appointment “as the chief terrorist” but there was no official confirmation. The Dawn newspaper quoted one unidentified intelligence officer as saying the announcement “was a ruse” as part of the ongoing power struggle.
Verifying information from the tribal regions is very difficult, especially since both the government and the Taliban have made claims in the past that turned out not to be true.
Hakimullah comes from the same tribe as Baitullah and had been seen as a likely replacement.
Earlier this month, Pakistani intelligence agencies claimed Hakimullah had been killed in a shootout between rival factions over who should take over a movement that controls large swaths of territory close to the Afghan border, up to 25,000 men and much arms and cash.
Hakimullah called The Associated Press and other news agencies after that battle to say he was still alive.
His apparent selection as head could shore up the Taliban, said Kamran Bokhari, director of Middle East analysis for Stratfor, a global intelligence company.
“It’s an attempt to stabilize the group after the initial reports of infighting,” Bokhari said, noting the loss of Baitullah was “a massive blow to the organization.”
As military chief of Baitullah’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistani Taliban Movement, Hakimullah commanded three tribal regions and had a reputation as Baitullah’s most ruthless deputy. He first appeared in public to journalists in November 2008, when he offered to take reporters on a ride in a U.S. Humvee taken from a supply truck heading to Afghanistan.
Authorities say he was behind threats to foreign embassies in Islamabad, and there was a 10 million rupee ($120,000) bounty on his head. Hakimullah claimed responsibility for the June 9 bombing of the Pearl Continental hotel in the northwestern city of Peshawar, and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier this year.
Since Aug. 5, Pakistani officials have been eager to portray the Taliban as in disarray, saying commanders and the rank-and-file were fighting among themselves. At one point, Mohammad _ who comes from a different part of the tribal region _ claimed to have taken over the leadership.
While it is unclear whether he will be able to maintain unity, Hakimullah was likely chosen for his operational capabilities, said Bokhari, adding that new suicide bombings could be expected.
More attacks would demonstrate the Pakistani Taliban is still intact, he said.
“I think that the decision of the shura to appoint this particular individual is based on that consideration,” he said.
Another close Mohammad aide, Sher Zamin, also confirmed that Hakimullah had been elected as the new Taliban chief.
Associated Press writers Anwarullah Khan, Asif Shahzad and Munir Ahmad contributed to this report.