— Domani Spero
Candace Faber joined the Foreign Service when she was twenty-four. She learned Dari, Polish, and Russian. At twenty-eight, she was off to Afghanistan where she spent a year at a “a tiny, crowded, dysfunctional world—one we could not leave.” She wrote that she “often fantasized about walking off compound, just like Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl did in Paktika. In my imagination, even the Taliban seemed kinder than my colleagues.”
She was thirty years old when she resigned from
the the FS.
Via Candace Faber on Medium – The Other Veterans:
[S]eeing them take this woman’s very real suffering so lightly, dismissing both her service and her fears as a woman, did more than hurt. It invalidated my own experience.
If a military veteran on a PRT had no right to struggle with readjustment, then by comparison, my year at the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul was a joke. My closest brush with terrorism was a distribution of children’s books I attended in Logar Province, pulling schoolchildren, government officials, and journalists together in a single building. The next day, that building was attacked by a vehicle-borne IED, and two of my colleagues were injured. I was shaken, but I wasn’t there. I also wasn’t there during the September 10 attacks, a fact that only seemed to invalidate my experience further.
In my mind and that of my colleagues, neither that woman nor I had the right to struggle with our transition. There was no excuse save PTSD, and I didn’t have that. I couldn’t have it. I wasn’t a veteran.
It has been a hard journey, as everyone close to me can attest. Resignation has also had financial consequences. But money matters very little compared to having my mental health back. As of today, I have not had an anxiety attack in months. I credit psychotherapy for my recovery. The only question in my mind is why it took so long for me to get help—and why no one in the Department of State, not even when I announced my intention to resign, suggested the option. Instead, I suffered alone for a year and a half, convinced that I was simply a broken person who could never be put back together again. All of that could have been avoided.
Ms. Faber notes that “the paper-based screening” given to her in Kabul was very limited. “This seems like more of a way to shield the Foreign Service from liability than a good faith effort to support its corps.” She suggested that this should be replaced with in-person screening at appropriate intervals.
Once more, we’re hearing about the security clearance process; she writes, “the federal security clearance process must get rid of its prejudice against mental health treatment, which deters people from seeking the care they need. There is a double standard here: If you are physically wounded in action, you are a hero. But if you come back from a theater of war psychologically broken, wired to treat everyone as a threat, and angry at the world, you cannot seek help without risking your security clearance—and with it, your job.”
Read in full here.
Below are some of our previous blog posts on mental health, PTSD, security clearance and the State Department’s programs:
- What to do when different voices start delivering multiple démarches in your head?]
- USAID’s First War-Zone Related Suicide – Michael C. Dempsey, Rest in Peace
- State Dept’s Suicide Prevention Resources — A Topic So Secret No One Wants to Talk About It
- Former Foreign Service Kid Writes About Dad With Severe PTSD (Many thanks to readers who took the time to write and send books to Tony Gooch! We appreciate your kindness).
- Ron Capps | Back From The Brink: War, Suicide, And PTSD
- Rachel Schneller | PTSD: The Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me
- Senior Diplomat Disciplined for Volatile Behavior Cites PTSD in Grievance Case, Fails
- Pick the Long or Short Form, But Take the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Screening
- On the Infamous Q21, PTSD (Again) and High Threat Unaccompanied Assignments
- Ambassador Crocker Arrested for Hit and Run and DUI in Spokane
- Quickie | Running Amok: Mental Health in the U.S. Foreign Service
- Former FSO William Anthony Gooch: No Mercy for Broken Men?
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Ticking Bomb in the Foreign Service
- Clinton issues note on mental health; seeking help a sign of maturity and professionalism
- EFM shouldn’t have to see three RMOs, do a PPT presentation and wait 352 days for help
- Join the Petition: Revised Q21 for the Foreign Service
- State Dept’s WarZone Deployment Incentives, Programs, Training and Medical Support
- DMW: Mental Health Treatment Still a Security Clearance Issue at State Department
- Insider Quote: Returning to the Real World
- What’s State Doing with Question 21?
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