This week I speak with LaRhonda Harris of the Maine Department of Veterans’ Affairs. She talks about changes that have been made in the last decade so that women feel safer and more comfortable coming to the VA for health care. She also talks about leading a book group for women veterans, and how sharing stories of the experience of being female in a male-oriented institution allows for connections across generations.
This week I talk with Kathy Russin, the Military Sexual Trauma Program Coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Maine. She talks about the prevalence of Military Sexual Trauma among veterans, and explains that it is not limited to rape, and affects both men and women. She explains how MST is different from combat PTSD in its impact, and talks about the many ways it can make leading a normal life very difficult.
A conversation with Mary Allen Lindemann, co-founder of Portland’s Coffee By Design. We talk about the ways that one coffee shop worked to become a safe place for those with mental illness. Mary Allen talks about training staff to de-escalate challenging situations, and tells the story of what happened when a staff member became ill herself.
A conversation with Sara, an Iraqi citizen who fled to the United States because her brother’s work for the American forces in Baghdad put her family in danger. She talks about the opaque process of applying to leave, and her complicated feelings when she learned that she would be allowed to pack two bags and leave her life behind. She also describes her work here as a translator, helping other Arabic-speaking New Mainers who are trying to adapt after starting from zero.
A conversation with feminist scholar Cynthia Enloe about how women are affected by war and militarization. We discuss the use of sexual violence, and its subsequent silencing, as repressive political tools, and about international efforts by feminist activists to make the United Nations address this issue.
You can read UN Security Council Resolution 1325 here: www.peacewomen.org/SCR-1325[Image is of Syrian peace talks in Vienna, 2015]