Open Letter to the MST Community

Written by: Luz Helena (Stacey) Thompson 
United States Marine Corps Veteran, MST Survivor
Dear Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST), those committed to supporting our community, and all Americans,

As many of you know it has been a difficult time in our country. People are divided now more than ever and we are witnessing an unprecedented epidemic of sexual violence in our military and civilian communities. This issue has no boundaries in regards to branch of service, gender, age, race, social or economic class, sexual orientation and religious preference. All populations across our nation have been affected and it is the responsibility of every American to unite in putting a stop to the spread of sexual violence in our communities.

Unfortunately, many of us share similar stories of sexual trauma suffered while serving in the military, at home or abroad. As more and more survivors of sexual violence come forward they are welcomed by a number of groups that exist to evoke change, healing and justice for the human rights violations many survivors have suffered.  

Now more than ever, the voices within our military and veteran community are being heard on a national level. It is apparent that we, as a community of survivors are deeply committed to seeing a significant change in the way the US military responds to cases of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. There are important conversations and issues being addressed in regards to MST and many of us have played a significant role in advocacy and activism. Our voices are being heard through social media campaigns, online support groups, grassroots movements and national organizations, all of which are essential in the pursuit of political and social change.

I am grateful to those who help survivors bring our message to the forefront of media outlets and politicians yet, we must not forget to always prioritize the mental health and wellness of survivors at all times. Together we must remain conscious of any actions that would be counterproductive to the important work we are doing.  We must remember that none of us are perfect individuals and we all make mistakes from time to time. None of us should tolerate gossip within our community regarding matters that are irrelevant to the overall mission which is; to change legislation, seek justice for survivors and put an end to sexual violence in our military. We must not engage in a public discourse which seeks to degrade or discredit our brothers and sisters. This should be a lesson to all of us regarding the need for bystander intervention within our own community. Any attempts to divide survivors should be viewed as a behavior that is both toxic and dangerous as it has the potential to distract us from our mission.

Although we have faced challenges in the past, we must not forget how powerful we are as a community. We have all witnessed the power of the #Metoo movement as an example of cultural change that is possible when a diverse group of people come together for a cause. My hope is that we can stand united as a community of survivors of MST and supporters to finally put an end to sexual violence in our military. There is no room for division or gossip and as we begin 2019, let us not forget the power behind our words and the choice we have to use that power responsibly. Let us remember that words, followed by action, causes change. I  look forward to standing together in the year ahead to address topics impacting our community such as, the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), access to mental healthcare for MST survivors, support for disability claims and the lack of recourse for wrongfully discharged survivors of MST.

Now is the time that we must take what we have collectively learned and do better for past, present, and future generations of service members by coming together to fight for justice and the eradication of sexual violence in our military. Join me in the #MetooMilitary Movement by signing up to show your support for survivors of MST. Weather you are a survivor or a supporter, your voice matters and needs to be heard!

​Together we can put an end to sexual violence in our military.​

Support survivors of MST and join the movement.