As the nation ponders the extent to which women shall have a role in combat operations, topical and timely performances and a conference are planned for Escondido and San Marcos.
American History Theater will present three performances of “Waiting for MacArthur” starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28 at the Park Avenue Community Center, 210 Park Ave. in Escondido.
On Oct. 31 a conference on Women’s Advocacy: Understanding the Scars of Military Sexual Trauma and Harassment, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Cal State San Marcos.
Sarah L. Blum, author of “Women Under Fire, Abuse in the Military,” will be the keynote speaker. Her 2013 book exposed the large number of Military Sexual Trauma cases in all of the military services. The Vietnam Veteran and practicing nurse psychotherapist has championed the cause of rape victims and other injustices.
According to the most recent Pentagon report, in 2014 alone, there were 5,061 reports of sexual assault in the military. Out of those reports, 484 went to trial and 376 of those trials led to convictions. Many observers feel that few cases move to trial due to the fact that military commands are in control of handling the reports, instead of them being handled immediately by the Navy’s Judge Advocate General or other impartial military investigators.
Carole Patterson, an expert on military sexual assault, will speak at the conference. During the past 18 months, she has provided treatment to more than 60 active-duty females and males with one or more MSTs.
She began working with the military as director of the St. Vincent’s Hospital Trauma and Wellness Center (formerly the World Trade Center Healing Services) in New York City. She received grants to help veterans from The New York Times and was a clinical consultant to the Wounded Warrior Project. She taught trauma intervention and violence prevention to master’s level students for eight years at New York University School of Social Work and Fordham University.
Nicole Heffel , the owner and managing attorney for the La Jolla based Heffel Law Firm, will speak on legal issues of women in the military. The Navy veteran’s practice concentrates on helping active military members navigate the justice system.
This year Hessel established the first veteran-specific program for incarcerated women veterans. She started the “She’s Worth It” program when she realized there was no Veterans Administration representation for most incarcerated veteran women.
She works with San Diego Veterans Affairs to ensure women get proper representation from the VA while they are being held. She also helps the women prepare for their release and make sure they are set up with shelter, support and the right mindset.