Support for gay veteran with PTSD who had ‘lifestyle of sin’ diagnosis

I’d just like to say thank you to all the people who signed the petition in support of Esther Garatie. In just two days, it went from 6,000 signatures to around 12,000 signatures – each one generating real email traffic to government officials.

Quick recap

Esther Garatie went to the Dallas VA Hospital with severe depression, and even mentioned suicidal thoughts.

She was injured in the line of duty while deployed. Her injuries were severe enough to force a medical separation. She also happens to be gay.

So when Nurse Lincy Pandithurai spent three hours lecturing Esther about how her lesbian lifestyle was the real reason she wanted to kill herself, the nurse explained that the cure was easy. All she had to do was become ‘born again’.

But Esther already is a born-again Christian. And religion has nothing to do with getting help for PTSD.

So Esther left the office absolutely determined to kill herself. But she reached out to her friend Jess, who is a non-practicing Jewish friend of hers. Basically agnostic, from what I gather.

Jess started the Change.org petition demanding Nurse Pandithurai be fired. Before the story even hit FtB, the Dallas VA had announced that they are investigating this nurse and will take appropriate action. That remains to be seen, but we hold out hope.

But then when I wrote about it here, the r/atheism community latched on and the thing went viral. The atheist community doubled the amount of signatures in just a day or two.

We had no interest in de-converting Esther. I do personally hope she finds / has a religious community that doesn’t judge her for being gay. She is fine how she is, and a person’s religion should have nothing to do with medicine.

Why did the atheist community care about a suicidal Christian?

I explained why I was so emotionally upset over Esther’s treatment. Why did we have a flash of altruism and reach out to help this Christian? Because we all care about others. It’s built into us.

We are a community-based species, and our evolutionary path encouraged the ‘helping hand urge’ because it kept the tribe alive. Remember, survival of the fittest was a concept describing species rather than the individual. Sometimes that distinction is not important, but with altruism it most definitely is.

Think about it.

You’ve seen stories about dog’s nursing non-dogs. That’s a biological urge to help the young and the vulnerable. The social stereotype of cat vs dog completely breaks down for this mother dog, and her tiger cubs.

This dog wasn’t trained to be generous, or to be altruistic. But she still nursed these tiger cubs. It’s a beautiful ‘side effect’ of the evolutionary path that a community based species follows.

Atheists don’t need to be told to tithe. Atheists don’t need to learn how to care about others, despite some theists insistence. Her friend Jess didn’t have to think twice before immediately starting to get the word out, trying to fix this situation.

The outpouring of support for Esther Garatie made me proud to be a human. As a community, we are good without god, no matter what.

About Justin Griffith
  • http://www.facebook.com/osiris3231 walterwarren

    I, personally, was honored to stand up for Esther.

    As a person who himself needs mental health support, if I were to ever walk into my therapists or psychiatrists office and, upon informing them that I’m an atheist, was inundated with “You need Jesus! Turn yourself from the path of darkness and seek His forgiveness and Holy Light”, I’d have flipped all to hell out.

    I realize that they are 2 separate issues b/c Esther received this harassment because of her sexual orientation, but they are both in the same realm of discrimination.

  • Aliasalpha

    We really need to see more stories like this, it helps counter the “I hate my species” reaction I get to so many of the other stories on FTB

    I’m glad I helped even if I was just another insignificant voice in the dark, with any luck we’ll build our numbers and leap from the shadows as a powerful army of bigotry-resisting ninjas! I have no idea where I was going with that…

    • Justin Griffith

      I implore you to return here for more of the same. I have a bit of a rescue complex, but instead of psycho ex girlfriends, I use it on the legitimately oppressed.

      There are a few people who blog at FtB who started calling me ‘the motherfucking lorax’… but they forgot now.

      leap from the shadows as a powerful army of bigotry-resisting ninjas! I have no idea where I was going with that…

      Flying sharks.

  • Pteryxx

    “the motherfucking Lorax” is an awesome title. (and the Lorax was correct, too.)


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