I struggle on days like these sometimes.  Every survivor has their triggers, and mine is the military.  I don’t have a problem with the military men and women who have died for our country.  I think they are amazing.  I think their choices were selfless.  I have nothing but respect for them.  I struggle with the culture in the military, the behaviors they promote and the behaviors they ignore.

I know what PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) feels like.  I have it.  I know how it can turn a life upside down.  I know how hard it is to step out from under the paralyzing pain of the flashbacks and the paranoia.  It is almost impossible to live in the present moment when there are so many unresolved emotions on the inside.  It is like living with the trauma every day when the traumatic event is gone.

In my opinion, the military is not doing enough to address the effects of PTSD on those who serve.  It also doesn’t help that our culture encourages men to “be tough”, so it is more difficult for them to admit they are haunted by traumatic memories.  Unfortunately, I think that some turn to other methods of stress relief, unhealthy methods.  And these unhealthy methods are not discouraged within the military culture.  Purchasing sex is seen as an acceptable way to relieve the stresses of war.  The prominent sex tourism destinations in Asia started by serving the military personnel who were stationed in those areas.  Still today, there are brothels with trafficking victims near most American military bases inside and outside the United States.

This is not just an American problem.  Some of the most horrific stories from World War II describe the use of “comfort women” by the Japanese government to “comfort” their stressed out soldiers.  The Japanese started with the poor women in Japan, but quickly moved on to abducting women from other Asian countries.  They set up comfort stations for Japanese soldiers.  Women were forced to have sex with 40 to 50 men per day.  The conditions were not much different from concentration camps.  However, when these countries were liberated from the Japanese, the women were kept in these comfort stations to service the “liberators”.

When my father sold me to the brothel, it was located right down the street from Quantico.  Almost all of my customers were military.  Many were still in uniform.  I was nine years old.  Every service member knew I was not eighteen years old.  I am absolutely convinced that the military leadership was aware of that brothel.  I am also sure there was no discouragement.  This is a cultural issue.  This must be stopped.