A recent Gallop poll found that one in four veterans know a victim of military sexual trauma (MST). One year after joining the Air Force, Jessica Coulter found herself a victim in a rising tide of military sexual assaults. When Jessica and her friends at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois threw a barbecue to celebrate the weekend, a military police officer sexually assaulted her in her barracks room. The attack brought on a flood of guilt, confusion and resentment. Fearing retaliation from her commanding officers, Coulter’s attack went unreported for years until post-traumatic stress, depression, and flashbacks crippled her ability to stay in the military and hold a steady job.
Coulter turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs for help, but found her benefits were delayed or denied when she reported the sexual assault. Coulter came close to homelessness without a steady income and benefits from Veterans Affairs. She turned to Wounded Warrior Project, who helped Coulter navigate Veterans Affairs, supplied her with a female peer mentor to call on when she felt overwhelmed, and offered professional services to get her career on track through the Warrior Assistance Program.
Wounded: The Battle Back Home (“Jessica”) airs Sunday, August 24 at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT as part of “Taking the Hill” on MSNBC.