Houston-area veteran sharing his story for the first time surviving military sexual trauma
HOUSTON - A Houston-area veteran sharing his story publicly as a survivor of military sexual trauma for the first time.
He says he was compelled to after meeting Vanessa Guillen's family at a rally earlier this year.
"They gave me a flower with a picture of her, and then, when I heard the story on the news, I said this is basically what I experienced," Lynch recalled.
He says he was sexually assaulted by his superior while at Fort Hood in the early 1990s.
"I thought I was selected by him because I was a good soldier, but he had another agenda," Lynch told FOX 26.
He was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and says he attempted to take his own life. When he reported the abuse, Lynch says, he was moved to a different unit but nothing happened to his abuser.
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Last year, he says he found a group of survivors of military sexual trauma and it been instrumental in helping him heal.
"I hid it, and when you hide it, you become prisoner to it," Lynch added.
On Wednesday, Guillen's family joined a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce the 'I Am Vanessa Guillen Act' on Capitol Hill. It seeks to move prosecution decisions for sexual abuse cases out of the chain of command.
"While we can never bring Vanessa back, today we honor her memory," said U.S. Representative Sylvia Garcia fighting back tears during the announcement.
Garcia and Congressman Pete Olson, both from the Houston area, sponsored the bill.
"Please let's not have another Vanessa. Let these women and men speak if they've been assaulted," Olson said.
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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports 1 in 4 women and 1 in 100 men reported military sexual trauma.
Lynch says the bill is a step in the right direction but only the beginning of the change necessary to protect service members from sexual abuse.
"I'm grateful. I hate that it had to come to her losing her life but it's not going to be in vain," he said.
Lynch is starting his own non-profit to help survivors of military sexual trauma.
"I used to be a very, very angry person until I got the necessary help," he stated.