By John Evans
Honorable Mention, Visual (2D), Create | Encounter 2023
A young boy at just 17 enters a man’s world to combat foreign and domestic enemies of the US Constitution and Democracy. Times were bad, bad at home in 1971, so I volunteered with the USMC. Vietnam was reaching a new height since the Tet Offensive. Carpet bombing from B-52 strategic aircraft was a round the clock offensive on the North Vietnamese region. Problems stateside were boiling over, and there was a young Marine (myself) exposed vehemently to the morally corrupt mid-level Non-Commissioned Officer who exploited me through sexual assault. This incident occurred in April of 1972, and I battled my own insurrection of my moral compass for 40 years. Suicide became my final answer. But ... I couldn’t do it. I had to live the fact a man raped me before I was to ever know the love of a good woman. Statutory rape and rape can be a common occurrence in the military. I was one of its POWs with a regard to assault by a superior ranking individual.
20–30 US Veterans per day lose their lives to suicide. I recall the day my 20 year career military father explained to me two of his buddies died by suicide after coming home from Nam. So, for myself, I chose to suffer internally for 40 years or better, and by myself. Lost jobs, relationships, homelessness, no self-esteem left, no courage to face life on my own terms, nothing, except living under the duress of mental torture. I lived alone for 35 years. No one to comfort me or share in love and holiness with me. Until I met a pleasant, intelligent homeless lady, my second wife. Then I began to heal and tell my story of an unjust war, homelessness, torture, permanent nerve damage, and this story lives on after 14 years of marriage.
The image entitled 20 Veterans per Day Lost speaks volumes of the mind-twisting of a sexual assault and an attempt on my life and how Military Sexual Trauma, PTSD, and a cervical spinal cord injury create within me an ideation so fierce. When you see a homeless veteran on the streets or smelling badly while grabbing some food for a change, don’t thank him or her for their service, listen to their story. If you are struggling, call 988 then Press 1.