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San Antonio veteran hopes to shed light on 'broken' system in reporting military sexual trauma

An Air Force veteran is sharing her story with hopes to provide awareness and uncover issues facing military sexual trauma victims.

SAN ANTONIO — Breaking the stigma of military sexual trauma is one of the goals of a San Antonio veteran.

Larissa Martinez, born and raised in Military City USA will be sharing her story and the obstacles she’s facing in the investigation into the sexual trauma she experienced years ago.

Martinez came from a long line of military service members. Her dad and uncles were in the military, and she became the first female in her family to join the US Air force.

“There were parts of me serving, that I am grateful for, but there are some things that need to be fixed,” Martinez says her first station in New Mexico became her last—after surviving a sexual assault.

“I never reported when I was in the military, because of the stigma, because of a lot of different factors,” Martinez recalls.

In 2019, she became the founder and executive director of non-profit Circle of Arms with her husband, to break the stigma of mental health awareness among, veterans, women and minorities.

Thigns changed following the death of US Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen.

“I was angry, you know, sad, everything and that’s why I did a lot of the advocacy,” Martinez says Guillen’s death was a motivating factor for her to report the assault years after the fact.

Martinez also advocated for the passage of the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act in 2022, which makes sexual harassment an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Martinez recalls some of the difficulties in reporting her assault.

“I was made to jump through hurdles...like, I even was asked to call the perpetrator to see if he would confess over the phone, so I was made to do many things,” she recalls.

She wants to discuss her experience—and ask if there is true justice for military sexual trauma survivors. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, 1 in 3 women reported experiencing sexual trauma during their time in the military, compared to 1 in 50 men who experience it.

After being hurt, Martinez says she is choosing hope for herself and others.

“It brings me a sense of community that I’m helping the community and still serving in an aspect that I didn’t get to do in the military,” Martinez said.

Martinez says an SVU representative with the San Antonio Police Department and the MST coordinator for South Texas Veterans Healthcare will be in attendance Tuesday night at the Steven A Cohen Military Family Clinic at 6333 De Zavala Road.

Due to the sensitivity of the topic, no kids under 15 should attend, and the capacity will be limited to 40 people. You can sign up to attend by filling out this form.

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