There was a popular commercial that went something like, “I am not just the hair club president, I am also a client”. I think of that today because I was asked what was my story. Why did I decide to start the nonprofit, My Seester? At first, I tried to avoid talking about my woes and simply replied, “to help people”. But, the person rightly assumed there was more to it. I decided for this week’s blog to share further detail on why with you.
After my deployment to Iraq in 2004 with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, when the conversation of females in the military was had, the conversation was of Jessica Lynch. There was not much talk of trauma or the possibility as a woman you could suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). How could you as a woman get it when you aren’t in combat? A person seriously told me that. To make matters worse, I truly started to question whether I had PTSD or was it just in my head. As a result, the loud noises, the 4TH of July fireworks, that till this day though lovely I can’t stand to hear, and sadly I did not get treated for PTSD. I suppressed. It was not the same suck it up and drive on mentality I was drilled in Basic Training. At least that acknowledges there was something to suck up. What I did was act fine. I would say I was fine. Even though, I would cry one moment, yell another, and laugh another. Truly leaving my loved ones saying, “you are off your meds”. At the time, nobody knew how true those words were. Anyway, by 2010, I came to realize my moods were not normal. I was not in “combat” but I was not out of it either. I needed help. The problem was there was no place to go that I knew of. As a female veteran, I felt isolated. I felt I got the thank you for your service but to get help for your service, I had to be a man. After this revelation I felt that somebody or some organization could provide help. It was approaching what would have been 20 years in the military that I stop trying to find the help I seek and deciding to start an organization that would provide the help I sought.
My Seester is not yet a year old and is working on providing help to the female veteran community. My guiding principle is to never have a female veteran feel like they don’t matter, their time in service did not matter, to help them out of the cracks if they fall in or prevent them from falling in the first place. I do this because in 2004, if there was such an organization for female veterans I did not know it existed. I do this because in 2010, I was suffering from PTSD and I felt alone.
So, like the commercial I am not just the founder, the Chief Executive Officer, of My Seester, I am a seester who been there, done that, and got the brown t-shirt.