By Wanda “Sistah Soldier” Petty,
President & CEO, SHE VET, iNC.
She Serves — She Matters
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates at least 22 veterans commit suicide daily. Considering the number, it’s time to begin examining reasons this may be taking place and create a movement for change. As a woman veteran who has experienced an injury, Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and has been medically discharged from the U.S. Army, I can relate to the disease of depression and abandoned feelings while seeking compensation for disability of service. I experienced moments of loneliness, and confusion of my worth even though I served active duty for 21 years. Fighting for my rights and what I believe was just compensation required that I exert a lot of energy. Yet, exploring the contrast was necessary for me to allow healing to begin.
I learned although I’ve been injured, I’m not broken. I have a voice, and I matter. Just as you have a voice, and you matter. It’s time for women of the military service to speak up pertaining to our rights and reclaim our dignity. We have an obligation to fight for our own life, and receive God’s declaration for our future, regardless of life’s experiences. We become “ONE,” using our voice together. We must speak up not only for ourselves, but for those who will follow our lead. It takes courage to commit to loving oneself enough to live and endure adversity.
That’s why you must understand the emotion of disappointment is only temporary and it’s only a matter of time before you reach the other side of victory. Imagine, the possibilities of stepping into the call of God for your life, because you stood up for what’s right?
Choosing seclusion, being withdrawn, instead of speaking up for ourselves can only cause hovered emotions and elevation of tension and stress. If ignored, suicide can become the ultimate decision. I submit to you today to choose life. Sometimes, that means holding others responsible for their actions. Changing one law can shift the whole situation “Feres [v. United States].
Why is it time to revise it?
If the law would overturn, compensation for malpractice, injuries, MST, and other situations would open the door for service members and their families to begin the healing process. It’s difficult to pursue transitioning without a sustainable wage or any form of compensation that will substitute a working income. If enough of us collaborate our voice, we “will” be heard! Self-care is an act of service for self. We cannot ignore our responsibility of caring for ourselves and our family members, then expect others to express our concerns (unless we are unable to speak on our own behalf). We’re the only ones that can tell our story and explain our feelings.
Here are a few options to begin your journey:
- Seek medical attention and begin owning your voice.
- Acquire an attorney to help you navigate challenges with the VA claims.
- Start petitions and contact your elected officials to implement the changes you would like to see.
- Hire a coach to guide you through the transition of using freedom of expression.
- Always, remember you’re not alone.
Sistah Soldier is an inspirational activist who helps veterans, women and minorities step into the call of God for their lives. She’s the CEO, Host, and Producer of SHE VET iNSPIRES Television Show.