An Oscar-nominated documentary called “The Invisible War” tackles the seemingly taboo subject of rape and sexual assault in the military. ABC News covered a quick story of the documentary and featured three women who bravely volunteered their personal stories of being raped while enlisted in the military. But even with the release of such a documentary, these women (and men as well) need more artillery than that to stop such horrific incidents from occurring in the first place.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs finds that about 30% of women have bravely reported cases of sexual assault while they were enlisted in the military. Think about that—with all of thre monumental strides that women have made in the military, including one woman becoming a four-star general, almost one third of all enlisted women either have or will experience rape or other forms of sexual assault during their career.

The director of the documentary, Kibby Dick, disclosed during an interview with ABC News that annually 19,000 of all enlisted military personnel, including men, have or will have experienced sexual assault, and that just counts for U.S. Troops alone. Across other national armed forces, the numbers are almost guaranteed to be much, much higher.

Unfortunately, ABC News report that only eight percent of military sexual assault cases actually go to trial, with the large majority of the remaining cases going completely ignored or unreported. One of the female veterans featured in the film had her case dismissed, and her attacker was even given “a commendation” for his military service. No charges were filed against the soldier, and her case seemed to have fallen through the cracks in the judicial system. As a result, the girl was discharged from service on medical leave after displaying signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, shortly after her attack. PTSD is the expected mental response from people who have experienced sexual assault, yet no cure exists yet for this crippling mental disorder.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively.

Those who have experienced military sexual trauma and have therefore developed PTSD as a result should seek medical attention immediately, as symptoms of PTSD worsen over time if left untreated. However, veterans are strongly discouraged from seeking medical attention by ways of the VA. Reports released by CBS News in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. A medical practitioner associated with the VA anonymously admitted to CBS News in a TV interview that “it is easier to write a prescription for narcotics and to just move along and get to the next patient” so that more veterans would be “treated”. This news outbreak, coupled with the 2014 VA scandal, hopefully cause ailing veterans to consult non-associated medical facilities to rehabilitate their physical and mental health.

One such organization is Operation: I.V. Operation: I.V is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life.

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.