Message In A Bottle

Sometimes I think of Mary Kay McCollum like this:

She’s a survivor of Navy rape, alone on the desert island of humanity’s denial of what psychological trauma does to us. Ever since the U.S. Navy discharged Mary Kay in 1983 because a superior officer destroyed her mental health by drugging her, repeatedly raping her, and threatening to kill her if she reported him, Mary Kay’s been applying for the VA benefits to which her service-connected disability entitles her. She applied for those benefits in the first place because VA mental health counselors advised her to; they had diagnosed her with the PTSD caused by her Navy rapes.

There’s unusual evidence in Mary Kay’s case: her assailant was convicted in a court martial and punished.

Even so, the VA’s bean counters, its “business affairs” people, keep overturning the VA mental health people. VA bean counters have been denying the evidence in Mary Kay’s case for 15 years. 

So, if you’re interested in the whole message in Mary Kay’s bottle (why you should be is explained below), start by reading The VA’s High Crime. After that, you could read, Letter From The VA Death Camp. Follow the facts and you’ll see that Mary Kay’s message is the same as Jack Nicholson’s baleful charge in A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”
Here’s what the message in Mary Kay’s bottle has to do with you. The truth embedded in her story is that humanity’s cruelty to itself causes psychological trauma. That trauma inflicts actual brain damage. According to some of the world’s leading public health authorities–Doctors Richard Rockefeller and Larry Brilliant to name two–the pandemic brain damage of PTSD may pose the single greatest threat to human survival.

That means the VA covers up the deadly reality of PTSD. That means the VA acts as an agent of the Military/Industrial Complex, not the American people. It means VA is a storefront for an American corporate wehrmacht devoted to profit, not national security, or peace and freedom.

Image courtesy Mike Hastie, Vietnam Army medic.

The VA’s handling of PTSD is like the CEOs of Big Tobacco testifying before Congress that tobacco isn’t addictive. Only it’s much worse than that. Not everyone smokes. All of trembling humanity, on the other hand, is addicted to war and the inevitable psychological injury caused by organized military violence. Organized military violence is nothing less than organized mass murder that humanity commits against itself.

All the flag waving and all the parades and all the pretty military cemeteries in the world can’t change that. 

Because of that, the entire human race is confined to the same terrifying isolation as Mary Kay. Our psyches can’t survive this isolation. We’re just not made that way. We’re all alone together on a speck of dirt tumbling in space. That’s why we all share the bottom line message in Mary Kay’s bottle.

A couple of days ago, I threw my own message bottle into the ocean of human consciousness with the email below. I sent it to Mary Kay’s fine Veteran Service Officer at Veterans of Foreign Wars, a young veteran who knows more about PTSD than he probably wishes he did. VFW is the most powerful Veterans’ Service Organization in the world. I’ll let you know if VFW picks up the bottle and reads Mary Kay’s message. We should all pray that it does. It would change history.

Subject Line: Request for Better VFW Help For Navy Rape Survivor Mary Kay McCollum

Dear Will: As the journalist who is documenting the devastating ordeal Mary Kay McCollum has experienced in applying for VA benefits due to her because of her Navy rapes, I thank you for the help that you and Veterans of Foreign Wars are giving her as her Veterans Service Organization and you as her Veterans Service Officer. I now ask that you increase the force of your help to match VA’s deadly mishandling of Ms. McCollum’s case. 

As you know, the evidence of VA’s mishandling of Ms. McCollum’s case is thoroughly documented in Letter From The VA Death Camp. As you also know, McCollum’s story is every veteran’s story of being treated as disposable by current U.S. government policy. Because of this “malignant normality,” Mary Kay McCollum is one of countless thousands of American veterans now hopelessly held in the VA gulag.

Clearly, this abuse of our veterans will continue until there is an effective demand for its end. As VFW notes on its Web site, “The VFW is one of the most respected voices in Washington, D.C., and within local governments across America. We advocate for justice for our nation’s veterans, service members and military families on an array of issues and continue to be the voice for veterans everywhere. We regularly testify before Congress, meet with elected officials and rally our national network of VFW members and patriotic supporters to ensure our lawmakers put veterans first. When those who’ve served their country and those that support them stand together, we can not be ignored.”

Please share this request with your colleagues at VFW. Ask that they review the evidence in McCollum’s case and demand that VA legally settle her case immediately. In order to make a public record of this request, I will post it on my blog site. This is a continuation of the promise I made in Immortal Medic

As I report in Testament, In Vietnam, “I had the honor of flying with the highest performing, best aligned organization I have ever known, or even heard of: the Mustangs, our gun platoon.” I had the honor of serving under the greatest leader I will ever know, Captain Harry Gawkowski, Mustang 6. If you needed the help of a helicopter gunship and you called us at any time, day or night, in any weather, we would come as fast as we could. Behind Capt. Ski, we would fly straight into hell to help you, gladly preferring death to not doing everything we could to keep you alive.
So that’s what I’m asking of VFW now: please do everything you can to help Mary Kay McCollum. And do it now! In doing so you will help every veteran and our entire nation.

Thanks, Will.
All the best, Larry


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5 responses to “Message In A Bottle

  1. daveratical

    This cannot be repeated enough: in Military Sexual Trauma: Mary Kay’s Story ( Mary Kay states, “I’m sharing my story because the scariest part of PTSD is feeling alone. I work hard to manage my PTSD because I have to. It will kill me if I let it; just as it causes thousands of my fellow veterans to kill themselves each year.”

    As Larry cogently points out, our entire, single, fragile, supremely gifted human family is imprisoned in the same nightmarish isolation as Mary Kay. If we cannot collectively break out of this suffocating confinement of psyche then the Extinction Express WILL claim our species through a smorgasbord of man-made nightmares including radioactive contamination of the biosphere from playing with the poison fire of Nweps+power (like 2 sides of a coin, forever joined) and global overheat.

    The Military Industrial Intelligence Complex is THE primary source distorting everything. Three days ago in “Eisenhower’s Worst Nightmare” ( William Hartung wrote about how the MIIC is coalescing into a ever tightening black hole pulling everything money can buy into its non-existence gravity well. While there is a scintilla of hope described in the 3rd and 2nd -to-last paragraphs, I am increasingly focused on sources like and Deep Adaptation, meaning adaptation premised upon societal collapse—I do think that such collapse is ahead in our timeline; see Rupert Read’s “Climate change and deep adaptation” (

    I was blessed to meet Larry through my sister who lives nearby him. Larry’s devotion to serving Life’s needs is exemplary, tempered by the Hell War he dwelled within 51 years ago. Like Larry, Mary Kay McCollum is an earthling who, through dint of her inner upwelling to hold on despite the murderous odds arrayed against her is, as Hemingway understood, strong at the broken places:

    “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.” —A Farewell to Arms, Chp XXXIV

  2. Nora Divine

    Hi Larry:

    This is so well written, and perfectly thought through. I particularly like the “message in a bottle” metaphor/theme. However, since you know old proofreaders never die, I suggest one very tiny edit:

    Par. 8, L. 1:

    The plural of “psyche” is “psyches” not “psyche’s”—–please delete the apostrophe.

    Keep up your fine work.

    All best, Nora Divine

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  3. Nick Theisen

    I am Mary Kays Brother. I have seen first hand
    The damage done to my Sister. It saddens me
    And infuriates that the VA has ignored all
    Requests to settle what seems to be a case
    that was proven in a military court. The officer
    That destroyed Mary Kays life was convicted
    In a military court. If I can help in anyway I
    would be happy to give testimony to the damage done to my sister. The VA needs to
    listen and act accordingly. Get it done and
    stop the BS!
    Nick Theisen

  4. Larry: I have shared your commentaries on this issue with several legislators on the conservative side of the so called “aisle.” Have you communicated with Senators Murray and Cantwell? I mean in person with their offices?? That's is where the power to act on this issue sits. I will keep praying for The LORD to intervene on Mary Kay's Behalf. Blessings, Cindy Zapotockyy

    Psalm 118

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