It has long been known that many soldiers are traumatized by the experience of combat. What is now known as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was called soldiers heart during the American Civil War. By the First World War the term was shell shock. Those in World War Two knew it as combat fatigue.
Unfortunately more than combat has damaged some veterans, both female and male. They are returning from servicing overseas reporting they were sexually assaulted by fellow Americans. Over 30% of women and 10% of men are disclosing that their comrades in arms betrayed their trust and sexually assaulted them. Some experienced multiple assaults, and even gang rapes. The Pentagon acknowledges that most sexual assaults go unreported because military personnel fear they will be blamed for what happened or punished. If a woman reports a man sexually assaulted her and her superior decides it was not assault but consensual she can be charged with fraternization. Until recently if another male sexually assaulted a man and his superior determined the sexual contact was consensual then the victim can be dishonorably discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Even after being discharged from the military many veterans continue to remain silent about the abuse they experienced. They face all the shame that civilians who have been raped experience, but with the additional burden of fear that others won't believe that sexual assault takes place in a military setting or that a trained soldier, particularly a male, ought to be able to fight off any attacker, even those with a weapon.
A majority of the victims I spoke with had attempted to deal with their emotional pain through the use of alcohol and other drugs. Many became addicted and began attending A.A. or N.A. meetings.
In 1989 when I was seeking a publisher for Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims Of Sexual Abuse I was consistently told, "boys don't get sexually abused, that only happens to girls." Of course now after numerous headlines about sexual abuse scandals in churches and schools it is common knowledge that boys can be, and are, victims of sexual abuse. Last year as I sought a publisher for Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse In America's Military I was repeatedly told that I wanted to publish a book on something that either didn't exist or was extremely rare. I wish that were true, but an ever increasing number of veterans are taking the brave step of speaking out. I imagine twenty years from now it will be common knowledge that our veterans face danger from enemy fire, but also from their fellow Americans.