I served in the United States Navy from July 21, 1998 until July 20, 2002 at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico and Vieques, Puerto Rico during Eastern Access active bomb field operations. In May 2003, I was a victim of assault when someone broke into my apartment. I suffered foot, spinal, and brain injuries as a result of the attack. These files were withheld from me and I have incurred ongoing issues with the Veterans hospital since then.
In 2003, my neighbor introduced himself to me. He was serving in the military. He seemed like a good neighbor. But as time passed, things changed. He told me he was going to ask my landowner for a key to my apartment to check up on me. I told him I did not feel comfortable with that. He said he was going to do it anyway. When I had my friends over to my place, he threatened them when they came up on my porch. My friends began calling me from downstairs, telling me to meet them down there because there was something wrong with my neighbor and they were afraid of him. But when I would go out on my porch, my neighbor was always there, befriending me.
My ex-boyfriend and I had begun talking again and he came over to my place. He walked inside, keeping the front door open, as it was really hot inside my place. I told him I did not feel comfortable at my apartment, and I was in the process of looking for another one. He went to go step outside and jumped. He came back inside and said that my neighbor was standing right at the side of my door. My ex told me to pack up my things right away and stay at his place for the week until I went on vacation to visit some friends in another state. When I returned to pack for my vacation, my neighbor had left a threatening note at my door. I disregarded it by tearing it up and went on my vacation.
After I returned, the assault happened. I was assaulted by my neighbor on Memorial Day in 2003. I was asleep at my apartment. I was woken up by my body being thrashed around and my left foot slammed into the corner of the wooden bed frame. I don’t recall what happened after that, as I did not awake until later that morning. I could barely walk on my foot, as it then began to swell. I did not immediately report the assault to anyone, since when I filed a report the last time, the police told me they would not investigate unless there was a murder. My neighbor was outside that morning. He made a comment to me about how I should love people.
I didn’t know what to do. I went to a friend’s house and stayed at her place for a while. She saw my foot but did not ask me what happened. I never told her. A few days had passed, and my foot got worse. It was swollen and purple. I eventually went to the doctor’s. The doctor confirmed a possible fracture in my foot. I did not tell him what happened either. He did an x-ray, and I went to another hospital that put me in a cast. My ex came back to see how I had been doing. He saw I was in a cast, but did not ask how it happened. I did not tell him either. I was kind of in denial that anything happened.
I handled things myself. I kept my window shut at night with my couch against the door until I could find some way to leave the area. But then something put a wrench in my plans. My boss was friends with my neighbor and I was wrongfully terminated from my job at the front door of my apartment. When I tried to appeal the wrongful termination, everything got worse. My medical benefits that I was paying for got terminated. I lost my apartment. I was then homeless. I had lost contact with my ex as the base was closing down. People were being moved or shipped out. By that point, the swelling of my foot was going up my leg. I had my cast taken off and the doctors tried to run another x-ray. At that point I could not rotate my leg to get the x-ray. The doctors asked what happened. Again, I said nothing.
It was not until I was transferred to a military hospital nearly two months later that I reported the attack. When I mentioned the assault, a nurse stated, “Those things happen here. It’s a cultural thing.” Some insensitive doctors nearby laughed. I was put on a three-month waiting list for homeless housing by the hospital. I did not have any unemployment coming in for food or shelter, and only had a little money left to fly out of there.
I got back to my state and started working with the hospital there. I then came to find out that the hospital where I flew away from did not want me to have my medical records. A person at my new hospital was helping me, and he told them that the records were needed for my doctor, as he was going to run some tests. When the records came in, I got them! Again, this was supposed to be something nobody was supposed to know about not even myself! The records withheld from me pertained to evidence of the assault and possible issues of treatment at the facility. I had also learned that I had a neuritis infection for about a year and a half which can be caused by a blow to the body, spinal injury, but I never received treatment. Why? Because I was always told that there was nothing wrong. I remarkably recovered on my own from the medical issues. I stood up for veterans rights in Washington, D.C. in 2003. I then went on to go to school.
Then under sworn statement to a school I was trying to attend, my new hospital signed that I had no past medical history, which they were aware of, as the evidence was in my records by the same nurse that signed the form. The assault was also not properly documented, and I was diagnosed at that time with brief adjustment disorder, although I was never informed of this or treated for it. When I brought up my medical history to the hospital and mentioned the assault, another physician asked if I really thought that’s what happened to me. She said, “I see here on the computer you filed a complaint with the hospital.” She stated that my medical history, assault, and complaint with the hospital were all psychosis. I passed my MMPI years earlier after the assault, but now they want to say it is all in my head.
I was not allowed to graduate, have suffered hundreds of thousands of student loans, and still rely on medical treatment at a facility that says I never suffered anything. I cannot apply to any position that asks for my medical history because the facility will now say it is too complicated, as this is also listed in my records, or will not respond at all to my requests for medical documentation for potential employers. I have had potential employers want to hire me, with medical waivers of course, but cannot get the hospital facilities to return my messages for months. The assault has taken years of my life and any possibility for a career away from me. It has been since 2003, and I am still dealing with trying to move ahead with a medical history, that I have now recovered from, still following me.