Last month, my husband and I watched this documentary about women veterans who bore the scars of war. They suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome, sexual assault, rape and homelessness. CPL (ret.) Sue Downes lost both of her legs and was struggling to get the help she needed to integrate back into life. She had her legs blown off above the knees and she got no support from the government. We watch these women as they struggled to regain their lives–normalcy. There was nothing there for them. There were no jobs–most of them are incapable of finding jobs. They had psychological problems. They were physically disabled.
It was hard to watch these women who served their country–the double amputee went through both Iraq wars–not getting the support in integrating back into civilian life. One woman who had a psychological problem and it took three months for her to be assigned to an officer who would actually listen to her case. One woman who was physically injured and didn’t want to be a burden to her husband, was yelled at because she had a service dog in a grocery store. Sue Downes encountered problems when she went into a fast food place with her service dog.
It was heartbreaking to see that one of these incredible women still felt like a failure in spite of the fact that she was doing her Masters after completing her Undergraduate Studies. It was encouraging though, to see two of the women who suffered from psychological problems take charge of their lives by venturing out instead of being isolated in their homes. One of them who graduated from college.
I watched a documentary on the rape and sexual assault of women in the US military on Independent Lens and the lack of support they receive. They are treated like they are the criminals and it broke my heart to see one woman’s husband actually break down and cry because his wife was raped by her commanding officer and his friend. The women who tried to file reports on what happened were made to feel that what happened was their fault. One was criticized for the way she was dressed. Another was told that she would ruined the life of the man who raped her–he was married.
Many of these rape victims find themselves forced to choose between speaking up and keeping their careers. Very few cases that are reported are prosecuted. Women are left with the shame of what happened to them and not being taken seriously. Their rights are violated again when they come forward with their stories and they are reprimanded or treated like the enemy. These women who gave their lives to serve the military have to struggle to rebuild their lives and fight for justice.
I hope that bringing to light this shameful secret of the US military and the stories of these brave women in the Oscar and Emmy nominated documentary, “The Invisible War” will make a difference. “We hope the film will affect lasting changes in the way the military investigates and prosecutes sexual assault crimes and supports and cares for assault survivors,” said Kirby Dick. To that end, “The Invisible War” is a call for our civilian and military leadership to listen — and to act.
To find out more about the makers of this movie, check out their website at http://servicethefilm.com/filmmakers.php
I hope that those of you who have not watched the movie, will find a way to do so and spread the word.