Pass the Military Justice Improvement Act

Today, RIGHT NOW, the Military Justice Improvement Act is on the Senate floor. I received the following schedule from one of Senator Gillibrand’s staff members:

The military sexual assault time agreement will be executed on Thursday, 6 March 2014 – there will be up to four votes, beginning at around 2pm.

  • - Roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on S. 1752 (Gillibrand).

- If cloture is invoked on S. 1752, all post-cloture time will be yielded back and the Senate will immediately proceed to a roll call vote on passage of the bill. No amendments, points of order, or motions will be in order to S. 1752 prior to a vote on passage of the bill.
- Following disposition of S. 1752, the Senate will immediately proceed to a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on S. 1917 (McCaskill).
- If cloture is invoked on S. 1917, all post-cloture time will be yielded back and the Senate will immediately proceed to a roll call vote on passage of the bill. No amendments, points of order, or motions will be in order to S. 1917 prior to a vote on passage of the bill.

In November 2013, along with an Active Duty Soldier, Navy Veteran Brian, two Army veterans BriGette and Ayana, and an Air Force veteran, Marti, I, a Marine Corps veteran, testified before a Congressionally-appointed panel in regards to three main areas:

1. The inadequacy of the military system to support victims throughout all phases of the incident reporting process.

2.  Recommendations on the role of commanders in military justice system.

3. Victim Services

If you feel like watching some of my testimony you can here (or push play on the video above). My 20 minute statement begins a little after 46 minutes.

Around minute 55, I specifically address the merits of Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA).
To watch or read previous pieces in reference to MJIA, please see:

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MSNBC Jansing & Co: Sarah Weighs in on Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act & More

The debate continues about whether the historic reforms offered by the Military Justice Improvement Act will be fulfilled.  Cheers to Senator Gillibrand for her continued efforts, as well as the efforts of the supporting Senators, to create a more judicially sound environment in which some felony level cases – such as rape –  can be handled by the military.

Furthermore, a Politico article released this morning shared an internal Army email that advised personnel to use less attractive women in marketing because “in general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead.” Yes, seriously. Listen through the end of the segment to hear about it.

* In case you’re wondering why I look confused initially, it’s because I didn’t know I was live/on camera at that moment!  Just Roll With It ;)

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NPR Morning Edition: Senate Considers Ways To Address Military Sexual Assaults

Summary: Members of Congress are unlikely to adopt one measure that many victims say is essential: taking away from commanders the ability to decide whether to pursue assault cases. Members of Congress say that step would undermine order and discipline in the ranks, and the Pentagon agrees.

You can listen to the full 4min 15sec long segment HERE, on NPR’s website.

Around the 2:45 mark, a sound byte of my testimony from a hearing in DC last week was inserted into NPR Morning Edition’s segment.

Of all the fall-out I experienced, what I explain in the sound byte that NPR used is perhaps the most tangible of all examples.

As always, thank you to those of you who provide support, encouragement, and sound advice.  On a personal level, I’ve very much moved past – healthfully so – many of my previous traumas.  Retelling portions of my story to large, public audiences is difficult, though, to say the least.  I keep pressing forward, though, because I hear from people like YOU who say it is helpful. And you know what? You help ME, too.  So thank you.

And please, whatever struggles you may be facing, whether day-to-day stressors, or battling events from your past, please don’t give up.  Health and happiness really are possible.  Yes, the rape I experienced effectively “ruined” my career, but I had the choice of which path to will walk afterwards because as Marcel Proust said, ”The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” My path has never been “perfect,” but I do my best with where I am.

If I can ever help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  All this “hippie dippie” yoga stuff, meditation, and “granola talk” is not just granola talk. Your breath, your movement, your happiness, and your light have the power to heal not only yourself, but to make space for the healing of those around you, as well.

I wish you all the best in your journey.

Namaste to your health & happiness!  ;)


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NBC Nightly News (again) – in response to Senate Armed Services Committee Hearings June 2013 – VICTIMS MUST REPORT

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I just discovered that NBC Nightly News repurposed parts of our interview a couple weeks ago (from an interview about a month ago). I was glad to see that they showed more of my response, though, because

1. It doesn’t make sense to have CRIMINAL cases directly within the Chain of Command and

2. Although often life-crushing, I maintain my stance that VICTIMS MUST REPORT.

*** Where would we be if not for the steps our foremothers and forefathers took to speak out? They suffered worse injustices than we probably have, but spoke up. Believe me, I know it is hard (that’s an understatement) but we MUST, because slowly but surely, I believe it chips away at the system and puts light on a very dark subject. There are so many layers to this… and rape is a WORLDWIDE problem. I hope the military can lead the way and effect positive change on a larger scale.

3. On a happier note, I’m so stoked my three-legged, wonder-pup got lots of coverage this time! :)

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*this is a 3:30 minute long segment with Brian Williams and Jim Miklaszewski. My statements are made beginning at 2:55min.


HuffPoLive – Web Series Exposes Military Rape

First and foremost, thank you to Anu Bhagwati and all of the staff at Service Women’s Action Network who afforded me the opportunity to speak out.  Also, thank you to Nancy Redd for running a compassionate interview and Troian Bellisario for her questions and sincere care to learn more about the realities of this crime.


Anu and I are introduced about 15 minutes into the segment.  The image above is hyperlinked to the video, or you can click HERE


HuffPost Live:

As news continues to break about sexual assault in the military, victims of these crimes are becoming more vocal in their effort to seek change in the way the cases are handled. On HuffPost Live Tuesday, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and military sexual assault survivor Sarah Plummer shared her story. Speaking to host Nancy Redd, Plummer described the re-victimization that occurred as she had to recount her experience over and over up the chain of command. Plummer said the judicial system “falls flat on its face” in handling these assault cases, likening it to “getting raped by your brother and having your father decide the case.”

“It truly is that intimate of a setting sometimes,” Plummer said. “These are people we know like brothers and sisters and our commanding officers are like father and mother figures to us. How dare we expect them be able to handle a criminal case without bias?”.



Read the whole story at HuffPost Live

Other recent and related media segments can be seen here:
- NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
- Washington DC NBC News4 with Keith Russell: Yoga Saved My Life

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

Sarah Plummer on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams

Ever wonder why I’m so motivated to do what I do?

Well, I’ll give you a short answer for now.

I care so deeply about helping people heal from physical, mental, and spiritual stress and trauma because I know how crippling it can be to suffer.

It’s not about me anymore, though. It’s about YOU.

Can I help you? Who can you help me help?  Who I can I instruct?  Who can we introduce to yoga, meditation, or integrative nutrition?  Who can my team – Kate Hendricks, Theresa Larson, Joe Shusko, Suzanne Manafort, Jonathan Sprinkles, and more – inspire at the next holistic health and wellness seminar that we present as a mind-body-spirit approach to transition, transformation, and ultimately, triumph?  Who can we help through their own personal growth and healing at our Just Roll With It Yoga & Adventure Retreats in Costa Rica?

These are not pithy sound bytes, folks. This is real freaking life.  I’ve been raped. Yup. It happened. 10 years ago, and I’m ok now, but that’s not the worst of it, nor is it the worst of anyone’s pains in the world.  It’s not a competition on who owns the corner market on struggles, though.

Pain is universal but we feel it uniquely.

If not through the work I do, no worries, but don’t let your injuries fester.  Please find a way to heal; find a way to reach out; find a way to connect; and if not for you, for the someone else in your life who needs it.

By the way, President Obama’s comment “We find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they gotta be held accountable” is an utter disappointment. “Engaging in THIS STUFF.” Really? It’s not “stuff.”  These are crimes.  The languaging of this has to change, too, in order to change the culture, the actions, and the responses.  What President Obama should have said, “When we find someone committing this crime, we will prosecute them.”


* I am not a licensed psychotherapist. I am a certified holistic health coach and Yoga Alliance registered yoga instructor who received a BA in Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. I am a professional integrative nutrition and health&wellness coach for individuals, groups, and corporations. I created the Just Roll With It Bootcamp which is now a National seminar series.  Oh, and I have survived a host of traumas and stressors to give me plenty of street cred, and wrote a book about it ;) More on me HERE if you’d like to scope it out.


From Wine Country to Washington DC – Practical Tips for Traveling Well in Any Situation

Just a little update for you on what I’ve been getting into lately and how it’s made me think of things that might also help you as you travel and/or face knowingly stressful situations.


This past weekend I ventured to lovely CA wine country for one of my very best friend’s – and also one of the speakers on the Just Roll With It Bootcamp seminar tour – weddings.  It was a poignant time.  Although it had the potential to be stressful due to coordinating carpools to the airport in Denver, long car rental lines in CA, a journey – albeit a beautiful one – to the wedding locale, and various scheduling and logistical requirements, it wasn’t stressful at all.  I love CA and I get choked up nearly every time I land anywhere within the state lines.  I have a myriad of memories that live out there, and it’s easy for me to get swept away by them, but the weekend wasn’t about me; it was about my best friend, Theresa, who has truly become one of my sisters since we first met in the Marines a decade ago.



Me & Theresa the day after her wedding! :)


48hrs: the trip to CA and back to CO was a quick one.  Yet, during my time there, even with bridesmaid duties, new and old friends to socialize with, and much more, I managed to meditate, yoga, CrossFit, and get fresh air! :)  Then, I was home in Denver for a mere 20 hours before going back to the airport to fly east.


This week, I’m on the other coast.  I’m in Washington DC for the Service Women’s Action Network Summit on Truth and Justice.   Today I will receive a full day of media training with a small group of other women, and tomorrow and Thursday are the days for the Summit itself.  The first day is primarily a seminar type setting, and day two is for marching on the Hill and speaking to our Senators and Representatives face-to-face about making much needed changes to sexual assault policy, response, legislation, etc within the military judicial system. These will be long, intense, and rewarding days, for sure.


Phew. These will be long, intense, and rewarding days, for sure, and a powerful week in general. From one extreme of emotions to the other, from one coast to the other, and lots in between.


I got to thinking, how am I going to adequately care for myself during this time?

—> Physically –because of the stress travel puts on our bodies, especially on a body housing many injuries like mine.

—> Mentally – keeping up with schedules and absorbing the valuable lessons of our training without getting “lost in the sauce” or overwhelmed by brain fog.

—> Spiritually/emotionally – staying centered and not getting sucked into a negative vortex of nightmares, sickness, and/or stress


Here are three, simple tips I’m going to implement this week which you can, too, the next time you find yourself jet-setting – for good, bad, or otherwise situations.

1. Make time, not excuses.  A simple 15 minute meditation can do wonders to both powerfully calm and healthfully energize your emotional core for the remainder of the day. If you need more than 15 minutes to do the trick, so be it. Rely on your breath throughout the day, and meditate again at bedtime to calm back down and improve your sleep.

  • —>  Anxious on a flight? Close your eyes, close your mouth, inhale through your nose and mentally say “soh,” exhale through your nose and mentally say “hum.”  Do this 10 times.


  1. —>
  1. Feel the “fog of war?”  If you’re in a stressful situation or feeling foggy during your work day or training, steal away to the restroom for 5 minutes and try alternate nostril breathing to clear the cobwebs, or start your day with this creative meditation. Inhale and exhale once, just through your nose.  Then, plug your right nostril as you inhale through your left, pause, plug the left nostril, release the right nostril, and exhale through the right, pause, inhale through the right, pause, plug the right nostril, release the left nostril, and exhale through the left.  That is one cycle of alternate nostril breathing.  Do at least 5 cycles for instant calm and clarity.  Do more if you want or have the time.


  1. —>
  1. Need to slow down before sleepy time? Lie down on your back.  Inhale and lift opposite arm and leg overhead and knee toward chest, exhale as you lower, then do it on the other side.  Do this 5 times on each side, then come to rest comfortably on your back.  Inhale and exhale “so hum” for a few moments before crawling into bed.  Keep “so hum” with you until you doze off if you find that helpful.


2. Self-care through movement.  Walk, run, frolic (if you must!) to the nearest greenspace or open window.  Do what you can to either jog, walk, or (as was the case in Paso Robles, CA last Saturday) Cross-fit first thing in the morning so you don’t have to worry about it later in the day.  If possible, keep moving in little spurts throughout the day.  Walk instead of taking the elevator, take a stroll during bathroom breaks, or duck outside even for a few moments whenever possible.


3. Be prepared.  Control what I can; let go of the rest.  My guard must be up.  Although I cannot account for all scenarios, I must prepare as best as possible.  That means setting myself up for success where I can.

  1. —> Bring my YOR Health and Vega supplements with me.  Often when we travel, we just go hog-wild on eating and drinking mindlessly.  It feels good at the moment, but bites us in the butt later.  If I bring my healthy goodies, I can ward off some of the sugar blues and junk food lethargy that certainly will not serve me well later.

—> Stay hydrated. (Herbal tea, soup, and natural juice all help hydrate the body, although not as much as water.  Caffeinated drinks don’t count because they are dehydrating.  Experiment to see which liquids help you feel balanced and hydrated.)

—> Bring running shoes. Bring yoga mat. Make sure my guided meditations are downloaded and available.  Bring journal.


I went to SWAN’s Summit last year.  It was a formative experience.  I am proud of my USMC Veteran “sister,” Anu Bhagwati, for doing what she’s done to advance appropriate changes in military legislation in regards to Military Sexual Assault and Trauma.  I am excited for what this year’s Summit will hold, and will do my best to take care of myself along the way, and will accept what happens with an open heart and open mind.  I will meet myself where I am, and I encourage you to do the same with yourself ;)


* If you haven’t read my personal account of military sexual trauma you can find a piece of the story HERE

* Another article of interest.  Why we sometimes hestitate to “tell:” Women “Victims” As Portrayed by the Media


Getting Unstuck After Military Sexual Trauma – Living A Life You Love Even After Trauma

On 1 August 2012, I was honored to be a guest on the Dr. Laura Ciel radio show, On the Edge of Exceptional.  You can listen to segments 1 and 2 of the show and/or see more on my press page at


Below, you can read a bit of our “Q&A” session.  These were not my answers verbatim, but the ones Laura posed to me ahead of time.  Her questions were thought-provoking and intelligent, spurring me to re-think through some aspects of my experience with being raped by a fellow Marine nine years ago.


  • What does the word “trauma” mean to you?  A jarring, violent, or disruptive event – this can be literal/physical or emotional.


  • How has trauma played a role in your life? It has done more than play a role; it has been a constant presence in my life.  Even from a young age, whether it was the abusive household in which I grew up, broken bones I suffered, or constantly moving, from events in my adulthood such as more physical injuries, assault, rape, illness, and combat.


  • After the rape, was there a moment when you realized that you needed to take action? Describe what that moment was like for you? What did you decide to do? Yes.  It was months after the assault, when I sat in The Basic School orientation brief and heard the JAG (the Military Legal Officer) describe other incidents of rape and sexual assault that had occurred in that training environment.  I hadn’t reported the rape right after it happened because I was so confused. I couldn’t decipher up from down, and on top of it was simply trying to take my finals, finish up school, graduate, and get commissioned.  I told myself to push it down – “suck it up” – and focus on school, moving, getting married, and beginning my career in the Marines.  I went to my Marine Officer Instructor at school the day after the rape, with the intent of telling him what had happened, but I didn’t.  All I could do was cry.  (see story here)Anyway, my then-fiancé and I (thought we) worked through things, got married, and began our Marine Corps careers.  So several months later, there I found myself at The Basic School, listening to a JAG talk about Marines raping Marines.  Although she belittled the victims and told the stories sarcastically, a lot of the stories sounded a lot like mine.  And it hit me. What if the guy who raped me comes here and does that to someone else?  I will never be able to live with myself. I knew the military was notorious for mishandling rape cases, so I didn’t dare think anything good would come of reporting the rape.  My husband already knew about it, my family knew about it, my closest friends knew. It wasn’t a matter of sharing it for the first time in the hopes of getting anything out of it, but rather reporting it to the Marine Corps in the hopes that they would take appropriate action.  I simply felt like it was a duty to report it to protect any potential future victims.  So, I reported it to the JAG and it was all downhill from there for a while.


  • Can you describe your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and fears about life after your rape? I suppose you could say I was hyper vigilant for a little while.  And I was definitely angry for a long time.  Angry at my “friend” who did it, angry at the other “friends” who seemed to simply retreat when things got difficult, and really angry at my new husband who I felt effectively abandoned me after the rape.  Then, after reporting, I was deeply disappointed with and utterly wounded by the institution which not only let me down, but continued to punish me in one way or another for years afterwards for having reported the rape. A lot of people talk about losing trust in others after a rape, but thank God, for some reason, I don’t feel like I ever really lost trust. I just felt disenchanted in people and institutions from which I expected support but which provided none.  If anything I felt sad, and made mental notes to myself to learn from the failures of others.


  • Do you remember a moment when you realized that you had a choice about how you could respond, live, act? Yes, because I definitely didn’t feel that power of choice for a couple years after my experience reporting rape in the military.  Granted, I was ensconced in an institution (the Marine Corps) that paralyzed my ability to choose most things, but I began to see beyond it.  I’ve had a series of epiphanies when dealing with the PTSD from the rape, but the most poignant one came when I was in Iraq the second time and one morning I realized that yoga was saving my life.  The days I got on the mat, I could actually breathe.  Even if it was only for a few minutes at a time it was a life-saver, because the rest of the time I literally felt suffocated. I was also blessed with a few very important and perfectly, God-placed people in my life at that time (two Navy doctors and a best friend), which no doubt was key to my survival as well.


  • In the beginning, what were your biggest obstacles to moving forward?  The divorce that resulted from the rape colored my relationships for years.  I carried all of it around like baggage for a long time.  Now it seems silly to me that I ever did that, but I sure did!  I also battled with depression off and on for years which, of course, colored my perception of everything.


  • Do you believe it is possible to experience trauma and move forward to embrace joy, love and happiness in life? Yes, of course! :)This is the philosophy by which I live my life and serve my clients when I speak, write, or coach.  No one wants to be in a relationship  – personally or professionally – with someone who is angry or bitter.  Heck, you don’t want to be in a relationship with yourself when you’re in that state of mind and state of heart. I don’t say this to make light of my own or others’ traumas, but it really does boil down to choice insofar as how you will live your life.  Some say courage isn’t the absence of fear but action despite that fear.  Living a full happy life after trauma is sort of like that. To me, choosing to live out of love instead of fear or anger is not due to an absence of trauma, but in spite of it.


  • What strengths of yours most helped you move from this EDGE (this moment)? What most helped you to start healing?  Faith, resiliency, creativity/curiosity, and health.


  • Even though you are in a good place now, is there anything you’re still afraid of? Complacency: in relationships, education, health, EVERYTHING.  In the Marines, we say “complacency kills;” and we mean that in a combat zone,  if you’re not aware all the time, you could get shot in the back of the head or step on an IED.  Interestingly, it’s not framed in the yogic sense of deeper awareness, but as I’ve deepened my yoga practice and become a teacher, I get it now on another whole level. Being aware means consciously choosing everything you feel, say and do.


  • What would you say to someone who has experienced a similar trauma in his/her life? I promise you that your life is not over. More than that – it’s not ruined.  You can still have the amazing life you want to have, and more than that - see it as an opportunity to grow and inspire others through your example of LIVING.


  • What was the most unexpected outcome of this experience? The joy it’s brought me now. The joy I get out of being able to help others, sometimes through simply sharing my stories, other times more deliberately with coaching and instructing. And selfishly, I appreciate the resiliency I’ve built within myself as well as the depth the trauma took me to with my faith and my relationship with the Divine.
    Ironically, because of my disabilities, the physical and mental injuries I suffered while in the Marines, I’m now equipped to help others. Ironic or divine?? :)


  • When you look back on your life, does this experience inform you on which direction to go/what your mission is?  Yes, all my experiences do.  I have two incredible mentors, Lainie and Daniel Allen, who basically workshopped my life with me a few years ago and it was impossible NOT to see God’s hand in everything.  Not that He wants horrible things to happen to his kiddos, but even through – especially through – the hardships, He was crafting my gifts, building me for something – this mission I’m on now.


  • What is your mission? What is the one thing you want listeners to hear from you today? Ultimately my mission is to inspire and empower survivors of any kind of trauma to get “unstuck” after a difficult life event so that they can go from victim to victor, turn tragedies into triumphs, and move from survivor mode to thrival mode  (I know “thrival” isn’t a word, but I love it! :)) in order to create the life of their dreams!People often get stuck for weeks, months, or years after a trauma, and that breaks my heart to see.  I help show people that they REALLY can turn obstacles into opportunities so they can create the beautiful life they want and deserve – and I have a lot of different ways to do so. :)Bigger picture, I see trauma and assault as a leadership issue.  Therefore, my message has evolved to be not just about sexual assault and MST in general, but about how sexual assault and date rape are the hidden thieves of our girls’ and women’s self-esteem, and how that effectively threatens to rob us of our next greatest generation of female leaders.  This leadership piece is especially applicable within the military as women’s careers are unjustly cut short by such a tragic event and then usually worsened by the (mis)handling of the crime afterwards. Part two of my message is to emphasize the power of choice, to remind survivors that they really CAN move to the level of life where they are building the one for which they were created.  Thirdly, I incorporate the health and wellness piece (yoga, nutrition, relationships, and fitness) because in order to transform in a significant and lasting way, one must be healthy in order to heal.Simply put, I am on a MISSION to prevent the sexual assault and date rape of our young women, as well as empower girls to whom it has already happened to move beyond survival mode into to thrival mode.  Also, I am driven to change the culture away from rape acceptance and victim-blaming to accountability for those who perpetrate such crimes.


  • Can you describe what drives and motivates you now? Total health for myself and others.  I was so unhealthy for so long.  I was this incredibly active person who ate well and had lots of friends, an active faith life, boyfriends, and was by all accounts very healthy. Then, I became mysteriously sick all the time from IBS to tumors to even having a mini-stroke…it was all about stress. So for me, being healthy means living calmly.  Being outdoors, doing yoga, playing sports, and being active is HUGE for me. Equally huge is doing my best to have peace with all the people in my life.  Of course, like any journey, there are good days and bad days, but I am happier now than I was even two years ago and certainly happier than I was when I was still in the Marines. I feel like I get happier every day…and most people would say I was a pretty happy person to begin with! :)One more thing :)… I believe the primary element of health is relationships, and I care about those above all else: relationships with God, my family, my friends, my teammates, my audience, my students, and myself.


  • If you had the power to change one thing in the world, what would it be? The obsession that many people have with outdoing one another.  That ego drive is what controls most of us and it’s a shame…I think that root insecurity is the cause for a lot of pain people inflict on one another.  If everyone was at peace with themselves and where they were, there’d be a lot less fighting on the micro and macro level.  If there was a heck of a lot more acceptance in the world, things would be a lot calmer, less violent, and less stressful.  So, I guess I wish for world peace! Haha.


  • How can listeners learn more about your work?  I have a website and a Facebook page as well as a forthcoming series of books this year the first of which has a working title of Just Roll With It. From Victim to Victor: How To Live a Happy, Healthy, Kick-Ass Life After Sexual Assault. The message is really “It’s your life to live and you get to decide how to live it.  Be brave. Look at the light side of survival! :)”  Also, I understand that the specific topic of sexual assault is better suited for older, and veteran, audiences. I do have wonderful programs for younger girls about good decision making, leadership, teamwork as well.


“Most of the time you don’t have to make any special effort to ‘do’ anything, because simply living authentically is inspiring in and of itself.”
-Sarah Plummer

View article directly on Service Women’s Action Network’s page here

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