This morning was intense. In a good way. A month ago, I received certification for VA Disability benefits for my PTSD, specifically for MST (Military Sexual Trauma), at 70% disability. It was incredible enough to know that I would be receiving a monthly disability check. Through the month I kept receiving various pamphlets detailing the other benefits. Can one ever really full understand government literature?

This morning, I had an appointment with the VA Social Service worker at the VA Clinic here in Bismarck. An hour and half later, I walked out overwhelmed with gratitude. Lately, any emotion I experience is to the extreme.

The short of it all is that at 70% I receive full health benefits — medical, mental, vision. They will start the paperwork to verify if I can continue my mental health therapy with St Alexius. On Monday, I have an appointment with the Primary Care Doctor at the clinic. It may be an option for me to switch Primary Care docs if I want.

The social worker several times asked if I had any more questions. The one that kept repeating was, “Why did I wait so long?” He said it was a good thing, and it has only been within the last ten years that the military began seriously responding and caring about MST cases. Also, more than likely, my discharge was not because I am gay, but because of the sexual assault. It was their way of sweeping things under the rug, may be.

But, yeah, there are more opportunities ahead for benefits and such. I am grateful for my friend Jamie in pushing me to meet with the Veteran Service Officer after my job was taken away. He knew I had had a chance at Veteran benefits, but I did not believe such could be possible. I had served only 15 months, and I was discharged for what I believed was for being gay. Meeting with the VSO in October definitely has changed my life.

All in all, it is a good validation — to know that I am indeed a veteran, to know that I definitely do have mental health troubles, to know that the sexual assault is recognized, to know that I am valid.

Overwhelmed with gratitude.

Oh, and I have started the paperwork process for adopting an emotional support cat/kitten from Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue.