I have been the executive director for Rape Crisis of Cumberland County for over 10 years. I have advocated for thousands of victims, soldiers, men, children, women, Hope Mills residents ... thousands.
Last night, I attended your meeting in support of Lone Survivor Foundation, and honestly, I was embarrassed about what I heard from some of you. It was at times very hard to follow what you were saying – a lake, kayaking for veterans being dropped off at a fire station, a recreation spot, a VFW, the list seemed to volley from one thing to another without making much sense.
This is what I do know, last year we (Rape Crisis of Cumberland County) served 611 victims of sexual violence, 243 of those were active duty soldiers. That number does not include veterans, National Guard or reservists. Their stories happened down range, in the barracks, in your town, in your county.
Our resources are extremely limited, and when LSF came to our attention, it was like a dream come true! An organization was actually going to help me help OUR soldiers in a healing way, for free?!
I was ecstatic, but very cautious. I would not support, advocate (for) or refer my victims to just anyone. So I got involved, met with Morgan Sierra (and) Terry Jung, attended many of their informational meetings and researched LSF. Yet I was still not 100 percent convinced that I could look my victims in the eye and tell them that LSF was OK, and it was OK for them to trust them, share their story and bravely attend a retreat. But, one of my board members for RCCC had told me that she had gone, and it was a lifechanging experience.
My best friend, a vet, a city cop, a hardass guy, told me he was going (to an LSF retreat). I knew I would base my final decision on what he said. On the way to the airport after leaving the retreat, I got this text from him. “Reference vetting Lone Survivor Foundation, 100% yes ...”
Trust me when I say this, there is no one else out there that is offering this level of care to take care of OUR soldiers who have been raped. No one. To turn LSF away from our community when we so desperately need them is just ... wrong and completely unfathomable based on the reasons you gave last night.
I commend LSF for trying to make this work, I would not blame them if they went to another community, a community who supported them and welcomed them.
If that happens, I will invite you to meet with my victims, and you can explain to them that although help for them could have been in our backyard, you said no. You said no at a chance for OUR soldiers to heal and get well again.