Task & Purpose

LGBTQ Vets, Still Fighting Stigma, Seek Mental Care Outside VA

After he returned from a tour in Iraq in the fall of 2006, Ramond Curtis wanted to get as far away from the Army as he possibly could. He was mentally checked out far before his contract ran up in 2009, and he sought comfort in various drugs to quell symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorders. Curtis said treatment at a Veterans Affairs clinic ultimately helped with his addiction. But over the course of his time in care, he’s seen three different psychologists. Two of them, he says, didn’t seem to understand the particular trauma he was working through as a gay veteran.
Playboy

When Women Veterans Become the Unseen Victims of PTSD

In 2005, Elana Duffy was an Army interrogator deployed to Iraq when her vehicle was hit by an IED. Duffy was knocked out and bled briefly from her ears. She didn’t feel she was badly injured though, and continued on with her mission. “I didn’t want to get pulled off the road,” she tells Playboy. “My job was my job, I wanted to keep on doing it.” When she started experiencing symptoms like bad headaches, Duffy hid them: “I covered up for as long as I possibly could.” Part of the reason she kept quiet, she said, was the fact that she is a woman. Standing at 5’4” and weighing just over 100 pounds, Duffy had worked hard to gain the respect of the infantrymen she served with. “It took initial weeks or months to prove myself to every platoon out there,” she says. Duffy may be part of a small group of women who have received a Purple Heart, but her experience as a female military service member is quite common. The Service Women's Action Network recently convened a set of focus groups to ask women veterans and service members about their mental health experiences. Nearly all of the groups said they had developed resilience while in the military. But when they dug deeper, the women came to agree it was “fake resilience” that didn’t contribute to their mental well-being.
Task & Purpose

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Is Gone, But Its Effects Still Haunt LGBT Veterans

It’s been just over six years since the military ended its Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, allowing gay, lesbian and bisexual service members to serve without needing to hide their sexual orientation for the first time. For some new recruits, the policy is already a relic, but for veterans who served before it ended, the discrimination they endured still feels fresh. Some of them were discharged because of the policy, while others merely suffered in silence until it ended. Many have shunned the label “veteran” altogether.
Task & Purpose

‘Continuum Of Harm’: The Military Has Been Fighting Sexual Assault In Its Ranks For Decades, But Women Say It’s Still Happening

As the military faces scrutiny over sexual assault in its ranks, less attention has been focused on the wide array of behaviors that reinforce a culture in which assault is allowed to occur. The Department of Defense has identified a number of factors that contribute to a “continuum of harm” in which a profusion of seemingly lesser offenses such as sexist jokes and bullying create an environment in which assault not only takes place but is tolerated. These include high levels of workplace hostility, the underrepresentation of females in the workplace, and “an unhealthy enlisted and officer climate with respect to sexual assault.”
The Progressive

Under Trump, Progressives in the Military Find a Voice

Liesel Kershul fiercely opposed the war in Iraq. She’s been a Bernie Sanders acolyte since the early aughts, and she spent her high school years organizing on-campus protests against police brutality. Then she married a Marine. While her views didn’t change, her expression of them did. “I felt like, oh, I need to keep my mouth shut because I love this man and I don’t want to interfere with his career,” Kershul says in an interview.
Bloomberg Law

Balancing Military Command with an AmLaw 50 Partnership

For many Big Law lawyers, balancing work and life can be hard enough. But for Jesse Miller, equity partner at Reed Smith, that’s just one piece of the equation. Miller, who has served as a reservist and Army National guardsman for over 25 years, was just selected by the California Army National Guard for Brigade Command of the 115th Regional Support Group, where he’ll be a Colonel in charge of over 1,000 troops.
Rewire

The Double Standard of Military Pregnancy: What Contraceptive Access Won't Fix

Despite theoretically having access to a wide variety of contraceptive options, women in the military still report higher rates of unplanned pregnancy than their civilian peers, and it remains somewhat of a mystery exactly why. What is clear is that the unique military gender politics that make it hard for some women to ask for birth control also stigmatize them if they get pregnant—especially when that happens at an overseas post or on a deployment. Any effort to increase birth control availability, including Allergan’s, can only be understood against that particular cultural backdrop.